OctoberVET: Skills for whose prosperity?
Critical research agendas for workplace learning
A number of high level policy reports in the last eighteen months have discussed the future of vocational education and training in the context of remedying a perceived serious skills shortage in Australia. In May this year, Skills Australia's report Skills for Prosperity – a roadmap for vocational education and training was launched by Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations. The report is described by Skills Australia as making recommendations for 'an ambitious vision of growth to meet future skills needs and through this, the realisation of improved workforce participation, enterprise productivity and social inclusion'.
This OctoberVET event aims to open up discussions and question the orthodoxy of the skills crisis discourse as VET reforms are implemented. For example, participants will be invited to consider the reforms from the perspective of the workers' lives, needs and aspirations. To stimulate discussion, researchers of VET and workplace learning will discuss their recent and current research.
At Sydney University's Workplace Research Centre, Mike Rafferty has undertaken research on work and skills development, occupational health and safety, and the governance and performance of superannuation funds. In 2010 Mike completed research for NCVER on Work, skills and training in the Australian red meat processing sector. He has also written on the shifting of life course risks from employers and the state to workers and households (including on mortgage stress) and the growing role of financial markets in managing those risks. Previously, he was MBA Program Coordinator at the University of Wollongong. Mike holds a PhD in economics and has taught at several universities in Australia and Europe.
Maree Keating’s recent research investigates changes in the lives of textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) workers in the years following retrenchment, (and the ways in which these reproduce social transformations at the lower end of the economy). She is interested in how changing constructions of VET interact with this process. Previously Maree has designed and co-ordinated LLN programs with vulnerable workers from the TCF industries in Melbourne. She also worked with the TCF Union’s Registered Training Organisation as a researcher and VET policy advocate and as the TCF Industry Advisory Body executive officer. She wrote an integrated VET delivery strategy for retrenched TCF workers, co-ordinated post-retrenchment support, advocacy and training programs across Victoria and interstate and conducted policy advocacy with state and federal governments. Dr Keating is a lecturer in the School of Communication and the Arts at Victoria University in Melbourne.
Stephen Black, Tony Brown and Keiko Yasukawa from the UTS Centre for Research in Learning and Change are conducting a study of production workers’ literacy and numeracy practices in ‘lean’ manufacturing firms. They are examining what is beneath the current crisis discourse about workers’ literacy and numeracy, as evident in recent reports from the Industry Skills Councils (No More Excuses) and the Australian Industry Group (National workforce literacy project: Report on employers' views on workplace literacy and numeracy skills) among others. Their research will take an ethnographic approach to capture the views of and ways in which workers and their supervisors, trainers and managers negotiate and make meaning of literacy and numeracy demands that are embedded in production work.
12.00 Registration, light lunch, networking and display of recent Centre publications
01.00 'Skills, training and decent work - Productivism and beyond' - Dr Mike Rafferty, Workplace Research Centre, University of Sydney, followed by discussion
02.15 'VET and low paid work in 2011: addressing or entrenching vulnerability?' - Dr Maree Keating, Victoria University, followed by discussion
03.45 'A literacy and numeracy crisis? Beginning a study of production workers' literacy and numeracy practices' - Dr Stephen Black, Dr Tony Brown and Dr Keiko Yasukawa, Centre for Research in Learning and Change, University of Technology Sydney, followed by discussion
05.00 Drinks, finger food and networking
Organising committee: Stephen Black, Tony Brown, Lesley Farrell, Greg Martin, Ann Reich, Keiko Yasukawa