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Commercial Education Society of Australia


Welcome to the Commercial Education Society Annual General Meeting. We are 100 years old this year. There are not many institutions that are 100 years old and we look forward to our 200th birthday.

The Society is one of three companies in Australia that has its own Coat of Arms which is unique. One of our ambitions this year is for the Society to build up its numbers. We only have 154 members so we will need to build up those numbers.

Our Councillor, Beverley Wilson, has tendered some useful ideas in the last couple of weeks and I think we need some volunteers to help implement with these ideas. Most of these ideas will have a time frame of about 4 weeks. In other words, information would go to that person and be put together. So it is only going to take about four weeks for each particular project.

I became the President in April 2009. The Society’s re-located to Hurstville — a regional centre of Sydney.

We want to bring the CESA into the 21st century and we have done this where the General Secretary, Maureen has been able to set up new systems so that the administration of the Society can run efficiently and smoothly. The Society aims to keep up-to-date with technology in order to meet the needs of its members and candidates.

The Society provides opportunities for people of all ages to improve themselves and to achieve a credential. That credential is an impartial examination by impartial examiners and markers. The biggest employment still is in the vocational area. The Australian Bureau of Statistics in their 2009 Australian social trends said that there are 8.3 million people working in vocational education and 2.1 of those people were casual workers. That is a large number of people.

Our philosophy has always been to encourage people, to encourage them to achieve a credential so that they can get started. Quite often people encounter difficulties and find it hard to get started. We are independent. In our operation of 100 years, the Society has never been in receipt of any grants or subsidies, or funding from government. This makes us totally independent. This year we aim to foster better relations with teachers and employers and we hope to do that by involving members in projects. One of our goals is to carry out some professional development such as managing communication and language issues and culturally inclusive learning — important areas that we identify with in Australia.

In 1971 the then President of the Society, Gordon McKenzie, had said

“The durability of the Society is to be found among other things, in its strong regard for the individual, in its desire to help and to encourage the student and in its imaginative approach to solving the problems of the day...”

“In its imaginative approach” — we look to the challenges of the future. I believe that we can put the spirit of the Society to work by addressing the new technologies, and by implementing these as part of our examinations. I want to include more current technology to be used in the examinations to reflect the times. We should be seen as a leader and not a follower.

In 1994 Competency Based Training was introduced. Although that eroded some of the number of examination centres in Australia, we still have a strong following in overseas countries. I look forward to your suggestions, thoughts and ideas about extending our services within the Charter of the Society’s Memorandum and Articles in our discussions after the AGM.

The Society has a lot of experienced people and a lot of business people. We will need people of vision, innovative people who will think up ideas and be prepared to throw the ideas on the table and see what parts of those ideas can be put together so we can follow up with them and build a better Society to benefit all those who participate in it.

For example, there are more and more mature-aged workers coming on the scene. As you know the government — both the previous Liberal government and the present Labour government have said that we all have to keep working until well over the accepted 65 years of age. So there are more mature-aged workers — people who need credentials, people who need to update their skills. Some people may go to training providers. Other people have trained themselves or upgraded their skills informally and may need a credential. That is where we come in because the Society’s exams can be accessed ‘on request’.

I take the opportunity of thanking the Council for participating in the Society’s meetings and hope to encourage their future support and I thank the schools for taking part in the Society’s examinations. Our task is still unaltered — this is to help people to improve themselves and engender in them a keenness for lifelong learning and self-improvement.

I am making a plea for all the members to be involved. We aim to have our newsletter go out three or four times a year to keep in touch with people. We want to know what are the trends — not just in vocational education and training but in business — how are people operating business? What kind of ‘soft’ skills do they require combined with current technology? How has the new technology impacted on their businesses?

Two nights ago there was a program on remote staff — hiring people outside of Australia at a lot cheaper rate. Technology is changing the world rapidly and business today needs to be accessible immediately and conveniently. Even though small, individual companies are employing remote staff, you have already seen it with the bigger companies with call centres.

We want to look at innovative ways and creative ways within our Charter for driving the Society into the 21st century.

Over the last 100 years, and in the years that I have been part of the Society, I have seen people with no other agenda other than to make sure that people get an opportunity in life to get started. These people have put in a lot of their own time without expecting any kind reward. They simply believe that because vocational education had given them a lot of opportunities they wanted to give something back.

Thank you for your support. Thank you to those people who took the time to come to the Annual General Meeting in 2010.

Kathleen McKenzie MAA FCES FRSA

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