Year: 1992


Type of paper: Abstract refereed

As the Australian community heads uncertainly and haltingly towards the end of the twentieth century , the appeal of the past and the need to create myths from which to gain courage and fortitude is indeed tempting. Not only is the past being redefined and recreated to legitimate and justify policy actions but the notion of an energetic future is being collapsed into an integration of policy cliches associated with the year 2000. In the reforms of vocational education the year 2000 has achieved an iconoclastic status, which new policies being targetted towards closure at the beginning of the 21st century. The current orthodoxy points to the economic success of Japan and Korea , with the assumption that because Samsung, a Korean firm trains 800 people per day and spends at the firm level 233,000 workdays per annum on training that if we adopt the formula of training and skills formation we will be OK. ( David & Wheelwright 1989 p 124) The government, business , unions and a host of commentators argue that the Australian commitment to training is small and that sophisticated and well performing economies are characterised by sophisticated vocational training. Calls for the reform of vocational education and TAFE seem to integrate a cloning of the high performing manufacturing Asian tiger economies with the training programs of the diversified economies Western Europe. The message is train, train and train again and economic rewards will prevail !!!!!! In this paper I want to discuss the discourse associated with contemporary policy formation in vocational education and the reform of TAFE with a view to identifying the "regimes of truth" and "discourse reflective frames" on which the policy reforms are premised and in whose interests are the most likely to benefit from the current reforms. This paper intends to deconstruct elements of the debate by discussing the reforms in the context of some of the myths which have characterised the emergent debate in TAFE . In this way it is hoped that this paper will open up to scrutiny some of the "universal truths" about policy formation, and about the history , culture and context of TAFE 's present and future role in the Australian community.( Foucault 1977, Rein 1989).