Letter to the editor

June 12, 2017

Greg McCoy believes technical schools need to be brought back so students are exposed to trades earlier.

We need the technical schools

- Greg McCoy, Congupna

I write this letter in bewilderment that many of this country’s youth are lacking the abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour as they grow into adulthood.

More and more adolescents, after leaving the formal school system, lack basic life skills to function and contribute effectively in society.

With skill shortages in an increasingly large number of trades, we have to rely on imported labour to fill a void that could easily have been avoided if the Cain/Kirner Victorian Labor Government of the 1980s hadn’t abolished technical schools.

I went to Shepparton South Technical School in the late 1960s where I was introduced to a trade from year 7 (form 1) and being only 12 years of age, I was ecstatic to be given the opportunity.

We had allotted sessions or periods doing a wide variety of trade-related subjects, which included woodwork, sheet metal, engineering etc, making various projects and models.

By the time I had finished year 9 (form 3) I had already determined a career path deciding to become a carpenter and joiner if ever the prospect presented itself.

I left school because the opportunity existed of gaining employment in my chosen field and I was successful in gaining an apprenticeship largely because I had been exposed to the trade through my technical school subjects at a very early age.

Ever since the abolishment of tech schools in the 1980s, there has been a slow decline of skilled up young people who take on apprenticeships.

At the moment, technical education centres around Victoria cater for interested students to pursue a career path from ages 16 to 19 or year 10 to year 12.

Schools that participate in the TEC program release their students one day per week, usually a Wednesday, to attend TAFEs or other registered training organisations to enable participants to experience their chosen trade and qualify for a competency certificate.

The only drawback with this system is that the interested students are only exposed to various trades from year 10 and because of this some of these kids come into the TEC programs with absolutely no skills whatsoever.

They have low language, literacy and numeracy acumen together with a low degree of life skills that are fundamental assets required to take up a trade.

They are at the age where they have older peers that have cars and are of legal alcohol drinking age forming a different distraction not to take up a career as a tradesperson.

We need to bring back technical schools for the students who are good with their hands and nurture, foster and encourage these kids.

I am very passionate about this to the extent where I volunteer at Orrvale Primary School conducting a couple of woodwork sessions a week.

Hopefully this will aid and instil encouragement and enthusiasms which may create eagerness and help develop some meaningful life skills.

Teaching these young minds while still at the primary level will only benefit their understandings and perceptions of this big wide world.

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