MEETING THE DEMAND FOR VOCATIONAL COURSES: AN EXAMINATION OF THE INFLUENCES BEARING ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF ENGINEERING TECHNICIAN TRAINING IN NSW IN THE 1950s-1960s

Year: 1993

Author: Barker, Ray, Holbrook, Allyson

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
Whereas the relationship between technical education and apprenticeship in NSW was an extremely problematic one for a host of political and economic reasons, the development of technician training provides a sharp and illuminating contrast. This paper raises some interesting questions about the training debate today through its examination of the factors, among them the roles of government and professional associations, that influenced the development of Engineering Technician Training in NSW in the 1950s -1960s. Technical educators grasped the need for courses that provided for a new range of workplace classifications which tended to fall outside the province or sphere of concern of tradesmen or the professional engineer. One of the major factors stimulating the interest in, and growth of, the provision of such courses was the strength of demand by the youths themselves. The restrictions attached to apprenticeships meant that many adolescents rejected them out of hand, while older youths were excluded because of the upper age limit. Either way technician training constituted an attractive option. To what extent did the Technical Education sector exercise power over training for industry? With respect to apprenticeship training, technical educators were essentially marginalised by the power struggles that centred around the recruitment of apprentices, and by the increasingly complicated framework of industrial legislation. In the area of technician training the technical education sector took a leadership role in the development of such training and faced little opposition in doing so. The reasons for the contrast are explored in depth in the paper.

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