Challenges of Training Motor Vehicle Mechanics for Changing World Contexts and Emergent Working Conditions: Cases of Kenya and Australia

Challenges of Training Motor Vehicle Mechanics for Changing World Contexts and Emergent Working Conditions: Cases of Kenya and Australia

Kisilu M. Kitainge (Moi University, Kenya)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-739-3.ch003
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Abstract

This chapter is an extract from a study that examined how institute-based automotive training in the retail, service and repair (RS&R) sector could be made more responsive and effective to the changes in workplace demands and new technology. It dealt with the promotion of vocational relevance in the training of motor mechanics in the contexts of a changing world and emergent working conditions. It was an applied learning study that followed a comparative case study research design aimed at advancing reciprocal lessons between the two regions of Kenya and State of Victoria, Australia. The research was propelled by the fact that technology used in this area is now changing faster than at any other time in modern history and is impacting upon most of the human lifestyles. This chapter deals with a summary of the main issues that were researched. Specifically the chapter deals with relevance of institute-based automotive training, stakeholders’ involvement in programs development, and program transfer from one region to another: and learning for work and at workplace. It highlights the views if trainers, trainees and industry practitioners on equity in program development, relevance to workplace requirements and ownership of the automotive training programs. It was found that Australian trainers felt somehow sidelined in the program design while the Kenyan trainers complained of being left alone by relevant industry in the program development venture. None of these two cases produces optimal results since participation in program design should be equitably distributed among the stakeholders.
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Introduction

Globalization is reshaping almost every economy in the world and specifically touching on all aspects of education and training. The world we live in is becoming one in many ways. The impact of globalization is being felt by all nations, developed and developing alike. Originally there were divisions based on the proximities and alignments. However, what is now common is the formation of coalitions aimed at forging a strong force to influence the whole world order and orientations. This is due to the openness and the integration caused by globalization. The world economies are increasingly operating in a global market. This is a market with higher standards, higher demands and with a lot of interdependence. Changes are accruing within the industry structures, up to the extent of having relocations as a way of being internationally competitive and on the cutting edge. Vocational education and training is not shielded from these forces and particularly so the mechanics who have to repairer cars with different technological complexities.

High performance workplaces are demanding higher level skills of their workers (Maldonado & Farmer, 2007). As such many developed and developing nations are looking at their Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems to provide solutions to and increase responsiveness to the changes in the global economy (Finlay, 1998). This demand is not unrealistic since it has happened before. For example, Rau (1998) attributes the more than sixty times economic transformation of Taiwan from the 50s to the late 90s to the development of a VET system that produced professionals in sufficient numbers to be able to contribute to the rapid growth. In doing so, VET contributed to the transformation of Taiwan from agriculture dependence to industrial export dependent economy. This is the kind of transformation that suits many developing countries in which population growth has stretched the utilization of the arable land to the extreme with Kenya being an example. It has all along depended on agriculture but due to demographic changes it is high time alternatives were found.

This research focused on issues dealing with education, training and work in the automotive industry. It deals with the issue of vocational relevance in the training of motor mechanics in the context of a changing world and emergent working conditions. It is a comparative case study research design aimed at advancing reciprocal lessons between the two regions of Kenya and state of Victoria, Australia. The study explored how institute-based automotive training in the retail service and repair (RS&R) sector could be made more responsive and effective to the changes in technology and workplace demands.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Changing World Contexts: Globalization is reshaping almost every economy in the world and specifically touching on all aspects of education and training. The world we live in is becoming one in many ways. Originally there were divisions based on the proximities and alignments. There openness and the integration of many technological aspects caused by globalization. The world economies are increasingly operating in a global market. This is a market with higher standards, higher demands and with a lot of interdependence. There is technology transfer from and to different parts of the world. The techniques and expectations for the motor vehicle repair for example are universal yet the education and training programs are regional.

Transfer of Learning: Applying knowledge to situations or circumstances that are different from the one it was constructed in. there is near transfer and far transfer of learning. An example near transfer may involve learning to use a piece of equipment or a procedure similar to one already mastered. Far transfer on the other hand involves transferring knowledge to a new situation where the operations are totally different.

Expertise: Important characteristics of human capacities developed through experience. It is the ability to do something well- better than others just starting out on the undertaking. It is not limited to any particular activity but refers to all walks of life.

Learning: It is the process of fixing meaning to stimulus. It is the process of constructing new knowledge. Learning should proceed from learner’s sense of vocation, occur in settings or activity systems where the function and purposes of the learning are clear and explicit, focus primarily on developing the capacity to do and where learners seek to accomplish goals. In addition, learning should involve sharing meaning and building connection among meanings and different renditions of the meaning.

Assimilation: Understanding a task or a stimulus through the application of the existing categories of knowledge. It involves using existing knowledge in new experience in order to respond to a particular task or stimulus, incorporating the new experience into that existing knowledge.

Stakeholders: Stakeholders are those effecting change in the community and those affected by it. A stakeholder in an organization is any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objective.

Emergent Working Conditions: The work requirements for a mechanic are no longer the traditional hammering and repairing of components. Today’s mechanic should have more than the technical skills. It is expected that the mechanic should be well versed with the use of computers and information technology in diagnosis and decision making. The vehicles being repaired are more of electronic gadgets than mechanical. The mechanic should be able to apply mechanical and electrical and electronics knowledge.

TVET: Technical and Vocational Education and Training. This is Education and training provisions and programs aimed at facilitating employment or work performance.

Accommodation: Modification of existing cognitive structures when encountering a new task or stimulus. It is the process of developing new structures, categories or subsystems when faced with a new situation. The established knowledge structures or behaviors remain but are differentiated by introduction of new subsystem.

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