HOMEABOUT NAENEVENTS & MEDIAPOLICYPUBLICATIONSSERVICESNEWSUSEFUL LINKSCONTACT USMEMBERS SITESTATE ASSOCIATIONS
FIND AN APPRENTICESHIP
FIND A GROUP TRAINING ORGANISATION
FIND AN APPRENTICE
PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS
NAEN BOARD
NAEN LIFE MEMBERS
STRATEGIC PLAN
ANNUAL REPORT
PRIVACY POLICY
NAEN STAFF
MEMBER BENEFITS
NAEN POLICY STATEMENTS
NAEN SUBMISSIONS AND ISSUES PAPERS
INDIGENOUS EMPLOYMENT
NATIONAL APPRENTICESHIPS PROGRAM
INDIGENOUS EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM
NAEN E-BULLETIN
NETWORK MAGAZINE
WORK EXPOSURE AND PLACEMENT PROGRAMS REPORT
PRE-APPRENTICESHIP DELIVERY MODELS REPORT
LOOKING AHEAD REPORT
GROUP TRAINING CORPORATE GOVERNANCE HANDBOOK
GROUP TRAINING FOUNDATION PAPER
WHS SUPPLEMENT 2012
NAEN PUBLICATIONS LIST
GOVERNMENT
CAREERS
VET
CONTACT A GROUP TRAINING ORGANISATION
CONTACT NAEN
2017 STRATEGIC PLAN CONSULTATION PAPER
GTA COMMUNIQUE TO MEMBERS
MEMBER SURVEYS
2016 MEMBER CAMPAIGN
WORK HEALTH & SAFETY
WORKPLACE RELATIONS UPDATE
INDIGENOUS PROJECTS
2013 GROUP TRAINING CAMPAIGN
WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
GTO INDUSTRY FORUM 2013
BEST PRACTICE
MARKET RESEARCH TOOL
SUBMISSIONS
NATIONAL BOARD MINUTES
CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
MARKETING
LOOKING AHEAD MEMBERS
STATE NATIONAL MOU
PHOTOS
2017 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
MEDIA RELEASES
2016 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
2013 GROUP TRAINING CAMPAIGN
2013 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
TODAY'S SKILLS: TOMORROW'S LEADERS
PARTNERSHIP AWARD
RADIO / TELEVISION / PRINT

EBULLETIN
WORKPLACE RELATIONS UPDATE
NATIONAL BOARD
GTA MEMBER VALUE
SUBMISSIONS

 
 PrintPrinter View
< Back to the news

Why do we value universities but shun the trades?

14-Apr-2014

Most Australians would have been delighted to see news of Westpac’s extraordinary generosity with its $100 million endowment to help fund scholarships for the best and brightest in the university sector. This follows a number of recent, albeit smaller, donations that are aimed at fostering education and which may mark a turning point in corporate philanthropy in the educational sector.

But what a pity that there is no equivalent in the area of technical and vocational education.

Numerous government ministers over recent years have urged students and parents that technical and trade skills be afforded equal ranking alongside university study if we are to build the skilled workforce of the 21st century and harness our capacity as a nation. Unfortunately, the action does not live up to the rhetoric.

It is wonderful to see some of our biggest corporations and wealthy individuals assisting the university sector. I simply wish donors would recognise some of the exceptional students in our TAFEs and colleges undertaking trades skills, who are among the best in the world.

It raises the wider question as to whether there is something unstated in the discussion about technical and trade skills education that challenges us as a community.

No less than a former tertiary education minister, Dr Craig Emerson, perhaps unwittingly, hit the nail on the head in a column in The Australian, last October, when he observed “Rarely do parents with university degrees aspire for their children to become tradesmen.”

If such an observation has even a semblance of truth, then we face some daunting challenges.

Is there a sense of snobbery about technical versus academic skills that is impacting educational outcomes and priorities? Is an entrenched bias against technical skills being allowed to permeate some educators and policy makers? What is the cost of allowing this mindset to fester?

There are precious few endowments for the best and brightest students in the vocational education and training sector. The long-running Mick Young Scholarships, now part of the new TAFE Directors Australia National Scholarship Foundation are an exception. These are supported by extraordinarily generous donors but the sums involved are relatively modest – just a few hundred dollars per individual – and they pale in comparison with the university endowments of recent times.

Every two years, WorldSkills Australia showcases this country’s most distinguished skills ambassadors on the world stage in the ‘Olympics’ of technical training. Each time, Australia produces outstanding talent that is among the best in the world.

I’d like to think that we are not too far from the day when our biggest benefactors will make the headlines for recognising technical trade excellence in the same way they recognise academic excellence.