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Higher Education vs Vocational Technical Training in Australia

From The Australian Higher Ed:

“It is pointless because its rationale is neither based on an appreciation of a serious academic/intellectual ethos and culture nor on responding to the socio-economic needs of society,” said Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent.

“Its main driver is that of social engineering. Its main outcome is credentialism – lots more paper degrees.”

He was commenting on a submission by the federal employment department, which contrasts the university expansion and poor job prospects for graduates on the one hand, with a “stagnation” of training in trades and technical fields, where labour market demand is strong, on the other.


“(There is a) lack of cultural valuation for technical training and education. This form of education needs to be taken more seriously,” Professor Furedi said.

“It requires more thought and resources invested in vocational education in schools so that young people attach the same value to technical skills as is currently the case with health or accounting professions.”…..

…..Monash University researcher Bob Birrell said the very weak outlook for job creation suggested the next few years would be tough for new graduates.

He said the migration program inherited from Labor, and set up in response to what were major workforce shortages, was still running at a record high level.

Dr Birrell said cutting migration was the correct response to the weakening labour market, not limiting the supply of university places for locals.

…Dr Li and colleagues have made a study of over-education, in which graduates find themselves doing jobs that do not require their level of qualification.

“We found that over-education was substantial and persistent in the labour market and gradually worsening,” he said.

“That led to our call to ensure that expansion of higher education does not worsen the prospects of university graduates.”

He agreed with the employment department that vocational education and training needed more attention: “There is so much evidence over the past few years of persistent shortage in technicians and trades”….

…Monash University’s Ed Byrne, who runs Australia’s biggest university, said the economy obviously needed “appropriate numbers of people in the trades and apprenticeship schemes”.

“But the future for the country, in large part, is to become an increasingly clever country, like Switzerland, where our most valuable resource is an educated labour force,” he said.

Healtheducationtourismengineering and innovation were examples of fields likely to grow and to demand educated workers.’

Is fee paying higher education a Ponzi scheme to benefit university stakeholders but leaving graduates unemployed with student debts, and meanwhile technical and vocational areas have skill shortages, still?

As promoted in the EU, Australia also has the capabilities of life long learning based on smaller pieces of study and training throughout one’s life, plus getting to grips with stabilised or falling fertility rates in permanent population, decreasing numbers of tax paying working age population, large numbers of baby boomers retiring, in addition to need for temporary residents, whether 457 skilled workers, students or backpackers.

Birrell adds his own John Tanton influenced anti immigration anti Asian spin to this subject through ambiguity and contradictions….

Dr. Li justifies expensive fee paying higher education, even if graduates are overqualified, as they can still work, but acknowledges, vocational education and training needs to be emphasised more.

Monash VC Byrne misses the point of how industry sectors in Switzerland operate, lots of immigration and temporary work permits…..



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