Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

2020 Submission: Topic 1 : Economy including Education

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-03-05

This is the first of a series of blog posts detailing my submissions to Rudd’s 2020 gabfest (you can make your own submissions here).  This first post covers "Topic 1: Future Directions for the Australian Economy – Education, skills, training, innovation and productivity"

It’s actually quite sad that suggestions cannot indicate they cover more than a single topic, because the most innovative suggestions will always be cross-domain.

OK, here’s my submission on this topic, with a bit of reformatting:

Leveraging secondary school laboratories could rapidly provide increased workforce capacity for emerging scientific and engineering industries and services by creating after-hours post-secondary certificates in the requisite practical skills, rather than the theory-dominant courses provided by universities.

This would require:

  • Curriculum development including consultation with industry and services
  • Minor investments to upgrade the school facilities, e.g.
    • Fume cupboards
    • Better storage for more dangerous and/or expensive materials
  • Smart scheduling for practical exercises to allow sharing between schools of
    • Qualified personnel (e.g. skilled in particular equipment)
    • Specialized equipment, e.g.
      • Microtomes (to prepare tissue for microscopy)
      • Chromatographs for chemical analysis
      • Cardiographs
      • Specialized reagants for chemistry
      • Incubators for microbiology techniques

Short courses (perhaps one night a week for a year) can concentrate on a particular set of skills required for the workforce, and some personnel or materials (e.g. slightly obsolete equipment) could be sourced (perhaps with tax breaks) from industry and business. I would imagine that the courses could be run within existing federal agencies providing post-secondary education.

Provision of child care for parents attending such courses is relatively easy, as the infrastructure (including that required for childhood medical emergencies) is already available.

Allowing a year for development of courses and administrative processes, the first set of people with extra skills could be available within two years.

It may be possible to minimize the cost to the government if industries part-sponsor a relevant course in return for the opportunity to integrate their human resourcing with the course providers. I’m sure there are other administrative innovations available in areas like this.

Not only would upgrades to secondary schools provide relatively cheap post-secondary education with easy access by the community, but the investment would also pay off by providing better facilities for secondary students.

Of course, other subjects could be covered in normal classrooms.

See Also:


2 Responses to “2020 Submission: Topic 1 : Economy including Education”

  1. […] Topic 1: Economy including education […]

  2. […] Topic 1: Future Directions for the Australian Economy – Education, skills, training, innovation and … (2008-03-05) […]

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