Higher and Further: Can We Keep Our Educational Promises?

Higher and Further: Can We Keep Our Educational Promises?

Damon Cartledge
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6202-5.ch005
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Increasingly, educators find themselves accountable to “make good” on the promises of policy makers about the social and political intentions of education. In the case of Technical and Vocational Education (TVE), delivering policy-driven promises can be a complex task. Internationally negotiated and ratified educational intentions of TVE by bodies such as UNESCO provide a relatively common promise of what TVE should achieve in knowledge-driven economies. However, there are stumbling blocks on the path to success in that mission. The range of contexts and stakeholders encompassed by TVE compounds the complexity, as does the recent blurring of historic divisions between further education and higher education. The chapter reveals that deeply entrenched values around forms of knowledge and their sense of educational “place” get disturbed in the process of change, and educators for TVE must now critically reflect on how to improve the knowledge structures required to meet the educational promises of the 21st century.
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In a neo–liberal framework of globalizing economies, Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) is often one of the state–regulated mechanisms through which societies are expected to sustain and develop their members’ capacity for self–reliance and self–determination. Within regulated systems of TVE, teachers are required to be effectively qualified and informed. Qualification of TVE teachers has historically been through university–led teacher education programs or in an amalgam of paraprofessional certificate–level training and credentialed industry experience. In developed economies, education for TVE is generally located within the technical–vocational domain of further education and subordinate to higher education.However, historic divisions are blurring due to the increasingly vocationalized nature of higher education. In the Australian context higher education is now no longer exclusively based in universities, as an increasing number of TVE providers gain higher education accreditation from government agencies. This indicates a physical and philosophical shift in the educational and institutional environments where the theoretical and conceptual knowledge of TVE is constructed and disseminated. Within TVE, knowledge is not abstracted or isolated from practice as a product per se, but rather viewed as an integrated component of technical / vocational competence. A distinctive difference of TVE is its educational intent of linking self–development with imperatives of socioeconomic development.

Internationally, the educational intent of TVE is underpinned by the stewardship of organizations such as UNESCO and their International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (UNEVOC); who provide a visible presence for TVE in the international context. The policy statements of these organisations inform the TVE community of the nexus of skills and understandings that UNESCO advocates for the knowledge–focused economies of the twenty-first century. Therefore UNESCO’s (2004) normative instruments for TVE provide an internationalized Litmus test around which to frame discussions on the intent and purpose of technical knowledge in changing educational settings.

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