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Commercial Education Society of Australia

Kathleen McKenzie

Kathleen is a VET teacher and academic and a doctoral candidate. She has been involved in private provider VET and higher education for over 25 years. She has first-hand experience and understands the difficulties of VET teachers with the ever changing VET language, diversity of student cohort and expectations.

She is a qualified teacher of VET, TEFL, TESOL, language and literacy, a skilled marketer of VET who has negotiated with local and international education agents, an industry representative for numerous State and Commonwealth government steering committees, industry panels, salary award working groups, Training Package projects and former Board member of NSW VETAB and has led inspections and compliance audits for her college with CESA, ACIBC/ACIVC, ACPET, EA, NEAS, DEETYA, DETYA, NSW VETAB, DEEWR, DIMIA and DEST. She is now a consultant for Educational Planning.

Kathleen is the third generation of the McKenzie family to be actively involved in the Commercial Education Society of Australia. Gordon A McKenzie was the President for 48 years and Arthur H McKenzie was the General Secretary and Registrar for 18 years. The McKenzie family had an innate belief of the value of VET/commercial education and the benefits that it could bring as a starting point for many who could not afford higher education, for those who did not have the opportunity to complete their school studies, the status of moving from one level of work to another, and the opportunities and career options it offered. The Society believed that the practical aspect of vocational education would encourage not just improvement in work skills, but logical thinking, the work ethic, and a commitment to a better community.

Knowledge Production
Kathleen McKenzie

“The empires of the future will be the empires of the mind.” — Winston Churchill

I am sure that all of you are interested in knowledge production — we hear it almost everyday in the classroom, in the workplace and see it in print and on the internet. Yet, this is not a new buzz word. Knowledge production has not changed. What is changing is the quality, quantity and depth of knowledge due to the speed of technology. The nature of work is changing, and the portfolio of skills necessary to add value in a competitive way is changing. As Lindsay Tanner, former Minister for Finance and Deregulation, put it, “. . . knowledge has become the most important factor determining standards of living — more than land, capital or labour.”

This concept of the knowledge economy equates with the shift from working within your own industry to encompassing and working with a number of industries/workplaces/companies to produce the best outcome. For example, knee or hip reconstruction or replacement surgery can include not just medical practitioners but also engineers, designers for specific anatomic variations, precision tools, and types of metal or plastic materials.

In the education sector there is a blurring of boundaries between academic and commercial interests. Previously universities had a monopoly over the creation of the curriculum and the certification of knowledge workers. Increasingly education and knowledge value have morphed into one discipline, that is, the mixing of intellectual property skills, creative and innovative thinking skills, and practical skills needed for successful implementation.

This is not a new concept. Many of you will remember the outcome of the West Review in 1998 which argued that because of an increasingly competitive environment the boundaries between the higher education sector and the vocational education and training sector were becoming harder to define. There have been a number of reviews and re-structures since that time. We have seen more blending of the post compulsory education sector by way of school-VET, VET-university and VET-adult Community Education (ACE). This is usually in the form of articulation agreements with higher education bodies.

Do we think this is enough? Should we be more conscious of encouraging learning that includes entrepreneurship, innovative thinking and problem solving together with practical skills needed for employablilty?

Please send your responses to these questions, your thoughts and/or opinions, for publication in CESA’s next e-newsletter — send submissions to CESA-news.

Kathleen McKenzie

© Copyright CESA November 2012