The Confluence of the Goals of Technology Education and the Needs of Industry: An Australian Case Study with International Application

Author: Williams, P.J.

Source: International Journal of Technology and Design Education, Volume 8, Number 1, 1998 , pp. 1-13(13)

Publisher: Springer

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Within the last few years in a number of countries, industrial groups have initiated research and studies that have attempted to identify skills that are desirable in new employees. In Australia, the set of key competencies that have been developed bear marked similarities with developments in other countries, also stimulated by concerns about economic productivity and competitiveness and the smooth and effective transition of young people into the workforce.

Simultaneous with these developments in industry, technical education has undergone a dramatic resurgence in an attempt to focus on the optimal and unique contribution of this area of study to the development of an individual in preparation for life in a technological environment.

The thesis of this paper is that such a confluence of goals is beneficial in many respects, but is limiting to technology education. Technology education as general education must go beyond the needs of industry for its goals, to some of the principles of a liberal education that are applicable to technology. This distinction is becoming more difficult to utilize as the lines between general and vocational education are becoming blurred. In some countries such as the USA they have always been fuzzy, but in general a convenient and appropriate categorization and hence description of technology education has been its classification as general education. As general education becomes vocationalized and vocational education becomes generalized, the rationales necessarily change.

Keywords: general education; industrial competencies; key skills; technology education

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Science and Technology Education, Edith Cowan University, Mt. Lawley WA 6050, Australia; E-mail:

Publication date: January 1, 1998

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