Sunday, February 17, 2019

More on the AQF

I suggest that in the main qualifications awarded under the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) do not quite live up to the objectives. So what follows includes how the AQF is working, and proposals to improve some aspects.

The objectives of the AQF, are to allow employers to identify people competent for the task at hand and improve occupational mobility. The educated should not be trapped in some silly occupational class or locked out by some elitist professional cult.

The AQF qualifications are supposed to improve mobility, movement up through the levels is meant to result in increased depth of knowledge, increase in independent thought and increase in personal responsibility.

Content vs Duration

The qualifications are meant to be defined by content not by duration, unfortunately the university sector doesn't comply they base awards on duration. So a 4 year B.Eng rather than being defined by required content is defined mostly by the duration.

That is graduates having spent 4 years to get a degree, believe they are superior than other graduates, who only spent 3 years to get a B.Sc or B.A. The other degrees however are not occupational degrees they are traditional academic degrees and typically involve far greater intellectual rigour than an occupational degree like a B.Eng. {The 4 year duration, seems to be mostly because of breadth of subject matter, slowness of the students, and and time spent on industry experience. In other words it lacks academic content, rather than such graduates being paid more on graduation they should be paid less. (we have industrial awards which set pay and conditions, and the award says they should be paid more)}

Anyway as a consequence of other occupations and industries not paying too much attention to content and more interest in status of higher awards, some minimum durations were imposed. Minimum durations do not entirely help, as an isolated topic can be presented rapidly in 1 hour, or it can be dragged out over several hours. Though expect that there is an optimum time in which learning can actually take place.

Therefore expect with the passage of time, the content of programmes will increase as the time required to present a subject decreases. However also expect that in lower level programmes the time taken will increase and the content will decrease, as more effort is expended to develop higher level of  proficiency and make them more conversant.

Education vs Training

However developing proficiency is why in previous posts I have suggested that we split education from training. We restrict education to foundational knowledge and enabling competences, and is more evaluation than learning. Whilst training academies focus on increased proficiency: lots of repetition until achieve the required level of performance.

With a split between education and training, most of the trade oriented qualifications will comprise of two parts: the AQF award and an associated Certificate of Practice (CoP). Prior AQF's will be identified as containing the CoP, modern awards will indicate explicit exclusion of the CoP. So people can get the foundational knowledge and then become adequately qualified to gain experience. If they cannot gain the AQF award then they are not adequately qualified to gain experience. The training academies become an important filter between education and industry.

Once someone has a CoP, at some future date they may have to complete supplementary training and assessment to verify that they still meet the minimum requirements. Whilst initial training maybe anything from 2 weeks to 250 weeks, corroboration of ability may only take 1 day.


Improved mobility is achieved by recognising common foundational knowledge and skill sets across various occupations, and creating appropriate educational awards and study programmes. Obviously this may result in programmes which contain content not relevant to a given occupation. However if an occupation or profession is defined by breadth, then it can be defined in terms of multiple AQF awards rather than one. We should not be defining bachelor degree programmes because of required breadth.

If need a ticket to belong to a profession or occupation, then that can be separate to the AQF awards and CoP's. A national organisation can issue a card the size of a credit card which lists occupations for which are qualified, on the front and AQF awards and CoP's on the back., along with a separate document providing a detailed summary. Basically little different than becoming a graded member of some qualifying body: the membership grade is the qualification not the educational awards. However for the proposal the qualifying body would ultimately be an international organisation, with national branches.

There should be no issue having multiple low level AQF's to define an occupation, if an occupation is required.

Knowledge Content and Academic Rigour

There seems to have been a split in the AQF at level 6 where have the advance diploma and the associate degree. Where the associate degree is seen as more academically rigorous than the advanced diploma. This also indicates the split between the university education sector and the vocational education sector.

This is where things have got messed up, along with the senior secondary certificate of education (SSCE) which doesn't properly fit into the AQF. The problem is that after grade 10, students can study towards AQF awards, or pursue grade 11 and grade 12 to get the SSCE. Some AQF programmes require the SSCE for entry, whilst others don't.

So for example to enter into a bachelor degree programme (AQF-7/AQF-8) would require to complete the SSCE. But can otherwise get advanced diploma or associate degree (AQF-6) and gain status for upto 2 years in the degree programme. Some people got the advanced diploma without SSCE, either because in the past it was possible to start without such qualification, or because of adult entry.

Clearly there is inequity, in that the original 5 year programme to get a 3 year degree has been collapsed to 3 years (Original: 2 years for SSCE + 3 year degree).

Therefore my proposal is that we scrap the SSCE, and after grade 10, start on AQF awards. No repetition in grade 11, grade 12 and first year at university. All is properly coordinated, and all education requires stepping up through the AQF, no jumping levels.

If cannot jump levels, then only one way to get a AQF-7 qualification and that is to successfully pass through the 6 previous levels. To get a bachelor degree you have to get an advanced diploma, no buts doubts or maybe's about it. This means those persons at a higher level in a more supervisory role, are aware of the capabilities of those educated at a lower level.

In other words we don't waste education because a whole heap of school leavers have got a B.Eng gone into an organisation and got the idea that those with an advanced diploma are only capable of drafting because that is where such persons have been stuck. Both those with AQF-6 and AQF-8 levels of education need opportunity to put their education to work and gain experience to develop competence and confidence.

Furthermore if you have progressed up the ladder rather than having jumped in at the top, and started work at the lower level you will be aware of the education required to complete a given task. Thus appropriate people can be trained and put to work. No false claims of shortages.

I'm not against providing visa's and allowing foreigners to do the work. I am however against the foreigners being exploited to do the work, and then being unceremoniously tossed out off the country when no longer needed. I am also against high level people being brought in to do something which is trite from their viewpoint. We should get the right people to do the work, and if we can educate and train them locally then we should do so. But training becomes impractical if all the time we declare there is a shortage of people with bachelor programmes and 5 to 10 years experience. It suggests we have a loss of leadership, and therefore not capable of assessing if  people are adequately qualified.

If we can say that designing a structure only requires a 2 year Associate Degree and educated people at that level and provide them opportunity, we save significant resources, and reach our objectives faster.

Take engineering each discipline can be broken into about 5 major areas of practice, according to NCEES in the USA.

Civil Engineering:

  1. Construction
  2. Geotechnical
  3. Structural
  4. Transportation
  5. Water Resources and Environmental

Mechanical Engineering

  1. Basic Engineering Practice
  2. Mechanical Systems and Materials
  3. Hydraulics and Fluids
  4. Energy/Power systems
  5. HVAC/Refrigeration

Industrial Engineering (management)
  1. Facilities Engineering and Planning
  2. Systems Analysis and Design
  3. Logistics
  4. Work Design
  5. Ergonomics and Safety
  6. Quality Engineering
Architectural Engineering
  1. Building Systems Integration
  2. Electrical Systems
  3. Mechanical Systems
  4. Structural Systems
  5. Project Management and Construction Administration
Note that in all these lists they are referring to technology not to the technical science.  So my formal education covers mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering, I also took options in structures and agricultural engineering.

Structures and mechanical systems are dependent on engineering mechanics both statics and dynamics, along with the mechanics of the strength and stability of materials. Therefore civil engineering and mechanical engineering overlap, except that most civil's wouldn't cover dynamics.

Water resources is dependent on hydraulics which is specialisation of fluid mechanics, the last 4 items in the mechanical engineering list are dependent on thermofluid dynamics.

The architectural engineering branch covers the structural and mechanical technologies as they relate to buildings. There is no coverage of the design of fabrication and construction processes, or logistics of supplying materials to the construction site. That project management stuff will be more about money, schedules and contract law.

Also note that there are 6 areas in industrial engineering, not just 5. Also elsewhere it maybe described as industrial management rather than engineering.

So as before, if take the first year of a 4 year programme as covering the common science, then that typically leaves 3 years to cover 5 areas of practice. So a 2 year AQF-6 programme can easily maintain the academic rigour of a 4 year B.Eng and cover a single area of practice which only gets 1 and 3/5ths of a year. So in a 2 year programme there is 2/5ths of a year available for increased focus on the area of practice.

For example an Associate Degree in Structures: could cover the basic engineering mechanics, statics and dynamics, structural mechanics (analysis), and the mechanics of the strength and stability of materials as well as cover more technology specific requirements such as building structures and bridge structures.

A 2 year programme would stick to frames. Whilst a 3 year programme would extend into plates, shells, cable-nets and tension membranes, vibration and fatigue of structures.

Now I missed the soils and geotechnical aspects of the technology. Very important as the structures, no matter whether buildings, bridges, machines or other non-machine structure, all stand on the ground. However geotechnical is increasingly becoming a specialisation. If it is critical and important then want a specialist, if not critical then it's not that complex. The basics of footing design can thus be covered in the 2 year qualification for structures.

Now if geotechnical depends on knowledge of structures, then it adds the 3rd year after studying AQF-6 in structures, as an alternative to studying alternative structural forms. I doubt however it is so dependent, it depends on mechanics and that should be covered in the first year.

The first year would become an AQF-5 in technical science and mathematics. It should cover the content of the American FE breadth exam. Whilst the AQF-6 programme covers requirements for FE depth, and PE depth exam but lacks PE breadth.

We shouldn't need the likes of the American FE/PE exam if the academic institutions examinations are rigorous enough, and the requirements for getting the AQF award are robust enough.

Similarly we should not need registration or licensing requirements if people are properly educated and trained.

So the problem with the sign post falling over and the cracks in the Opal towers is because people adequately qualified in structures did not design the structures and people with still greater capability in structures did not properly review and approve the evidence-of-suitability. Licensing people based on current academic records and professional memberships will not resolve the issues. We need people more competent in structural design, we need better managed projects, we need better controlled projects.

... to be continued ...

Loss of Status

All existing bachelor degrees will loose status. This is not a problem as all academic awards should loose status with the passage of time.

That which can be studied in the first 10 years of education can be increased with the passage of time. As more books are written and published, more information becomes accessible. Furthermore books improve the presentation of subject matter with time. On the other hand subjects can also  become increasingly complex with the passage of time. One subject also builds upon another subject, so that have subjects, involving studying the studying of the subject, or studying the people studying the subject, or the history of the subject. Some times these are important complements other times they are irrelevant and unimportant.

Furthermore books can give way to video, and animations and  interactive programmes, so that learning is made easier and assessment is made more robust. So that hopefully the certificate I from last year is not as good as the certificate I from this year. And hopefully it is never the other way around, with last years qualifications being superior.

Also last year needed someone special to find a solution to a problem, this year and there after, people with lesser knowledge can be educated to apply the solution. So at one point we needed to know how to design beams, and how to design walls of circular tanks: now that as a society we hold such knowledge, now we, just need to train people to use such knowledge.

If there is a defined body of knowledge used to define a profession then that body of knowledge can be published and should be published. As a designer I like to know what a carpenter should be capable of doing, and also what they are willing to do or have the resources to do. Armed with such knowledge I can minimise my documentation. Alternatively I can expand documentation and save them time. But if I expect the carpenter to have more knowledge than they have, and the carpenter believes they know more than they actually do, then we have a problem.

Clearly has human knowledge increases we expect to have more specialists. So now we have hundreds if not thousands of people who now have a bachelor degree defining their job, and giving rise to more and more professional cults. Yet the need for these degrees in the main has little to do with the needs of the work, and more to do with poorly defined and poorly designed jobs.

Now clearly if each area of practice is only given 1 and 3/5th of a year in a 4 year programme (AQF-8), but an AQF-6 programme, well gives it 2 years and provides more content, then the AQF-6 programme makes that individual more competent and capable in the given area of practice. Furthermore the next generation will require 5 x AQF-6 programmes to get the same breadth. Assuming that all are based on a common foundation at AQF-5, then that is a total of 1 + 5=6 years of study versus the 4 year programme.

In terms of breadth the 3 and 4 year programmes should fall out of favour. But new 3 year programmes should emerge which properly cover depth and appropriate specialisations.

Societies Confidence

As I say no need for registration and licensing, proper education and training and recognition of such through the AQF should take care of such.

Confidence in Design

Defects in design are largely a consequence of pressure due to budget and time constraints: if don't sell time and don't believe all units of time have the same value, then not quite the same problem. On top of these constraints is owners/developers introducing last minute changes whether at the end of design or part way through construction.

Now this becomes a problem, when have inadequate checks and balances in place. The issue is not about who checks work, but how work is checked.

Design is a creative activity, it imagines potential solutions to a set of objectives and constraints, and the proposals are guided by qualitative appreciation of science. Where feasible some numbers are crunched to give some quantitative guidance. Designers work at drawing boards, they alternate between drawing and calculations. Drawings are used to resolve dimensional and geometric issues of fit, to get a clear picture of relationships. Whilst dimensions may well be calculated, sketches are used to define relationships, the geometry and shape of things. Scale drawings can validate or refute assumptions. For example, the arithmetic doesn't add up because missed dimension of a clearance, or a gasket or something not usually present.

Calculations and drawings therefore reinforce one another, one is a second opinion on the other: a check and a balance. You should have at least two ways of doing things, if the two ways give different answers and they should give the same, then need to find an explanation and then fix the approach which is giving the wrong answer or find other approaches better suited to the task.

The process of design should therefore be close to self correcting. However often have multiple conflicting requirements. So when finished and have documented the whole, then review the finished document and assess if it is fit-for-function and met all objectives: or otherwise explicitly identify the conflicting objectives and the compromises made.

Design-calculations are seldom suitable as Proof-Calculations. Once design is completed then need to do proof-calculations. For example wouldn't use AS4100 steel structures code to design a steel beam, it is too complex and convoluted. Rather design is carried out using simpler calculations, for example "find and get in the ballpark" using full section properties and a suitable design-factor. Then check compliance with AS4100 using the more cumbersome to calculate effective section properties. Of course we can simplify the process and produce design capacity tables (DCT's), and thus the process becomes more efficient as we can get a suitable section more directly with fewer calculations. We can speed things even further with span tables for specific applications. Faster still is to use computers. It is still however a "trial and error" exercise as the analysis calculations are dependent on knowing the properties of a suitable section, and the point of the calculations is to find a suitable section. So we guess and check, and use each previous guess to direct our next guess, until we converge upon the structural solution. Most other areas of practice are similar. There are few situations where it is practical  to rearrange the mathematical expressions and directly calculate the value we are seeking.

Irrespective we have this process of design-calculation which then results in a specification-of-intent
which we then need to check is a valid design-solution to our defined design-problem. So our final calculations provide proof of compliance with a code of practice and all other objectives and requirements. These proof-calculations form the first stage of the evidence-of-suitability for the proposal.

If the design is simple and non-critical then the designer can do their own proof checks a few hours or a few days later. If the system is not simple and is critical then another person should carry out an independent review. An independent review is not an arithmetic check, it is not a school teacher checking the work. An independent review is carried out using the specification-of-intent, and only such specification, the reviewer has no need to see the designers calculations. {My experience is large Australian consultancies do not carry out proper independent reviews they get graduates to basically do arithmetic checks. Who may or may not otherwise ask what is this all about? It is good if they do ask, as they can start learning how to do such calculations, and demonstrate that they have understanding of the concepts. It is however not a proper independent check, it can be used as a secondary check and learning exercise but not a substitute for formal review.}

Once the designer organisation is happy they have validated the design. The specification-of-intent can be released for regulatory review. Regulatory review is only concerned with compliance with regulations: if not in the regulations then of no consequence. It is therefore the designer's responsibility to highlight additional requirements which may go above and beyond the minima of the codes and to have had these properly checked and validated because the regulator isn't going to check or validate them.

Now once again the regulator should be capable of carrying out an independent review without reference to the designers-proof calculations. However:
An independent review can only be properly executed if there has been a deliberate intent to make a proposal suitable for purpose and a defendable assertion to that effect has been made. [sch]
The designer doesn't need to submit their proof calculations, but they need make declaration that they are capable of defending their claim that a proposal is fit-for-function. Traditionally that is as simple as several people working for the consultant signing off on the drawings. Typically would include the designer, chief-designer, and senior representative of the organisation. For small projects and small consultancies, it would just be the signature of the designer. {Unfortunately seems people are more concerned about intellectual property rights, and copyright than getting things right. So building designers drawings have business name on them and copyright notice, but seldom a signature or initials indicating that they are the designer responsible. The drawings bounce back and forth between council and themselves until it becomes compliant. Not really acceptable as the certifier is more designer, than independent reviewer.}

If there is no indication of who is advocate or proponent for the proposal, then the regulator shouldn't be wasting their time reviewing the proposal, as their independence from the design process will be compromised. The regulator would become more a design manager guiding the design process until it converges on a compliant design. Not their role.

So the regulator gets the appropriate documents (which do not include the proof-calculations), and can now independently review the project. The issue is that the regulator doesn't have enough time to carry out a proper independent review, and fees are inadequate for such purpose.

Possibly true. But it is also true that the regulators do not appear to put any time into developing suitable design tools to aid their specific role.

For example nailed plated roof trusses were a problem, because rapidly designed by software, and the output lacked detail. So lacks detail, but did the specification of intent lack detail? If can write software to rapidly design the trusses can equally well write software to check compliance: where was the compliance checking software, where is the compliance checking software? Doesn't exist because typically use general purpose structural analysis software, but such software is too slow. Therefore need more specific software optimised for the task at hand: it needed to be developed, it still needs to be developed. But that is just the assessment, by calculation.

There is still the issue of the specification-of-intent: was that adequate? The answer is no. A proper specification would have clear details regarding the connections. It would make it clear that nail plates fit and have adequate anchorage in each member. The information would be in the specification to allow checking that the nail plates have adequate resistance. If connections are not drawn to scale, then a lot of information is missing. It isn't always necessary to draw the connections, as some connections are simple and the fit is obvious. For example 2M20's into a 250 PFC likely acceptable, the same bolts in a C7510 is likely a problem unless the bolts are maybe side by side (but would still like to know about end distances and edge distance.).

If drawings lack the information to conduct an independent review, then the drawings are not good enough. The drawings may not give the information directly, but expect to find the information necessary to derive other information. Though if have to draw additional sections, may consider the drawings inadequate.

The review process is iterative. The detail of the review calculations depends on the specification. If the design is robust then a quick and simple calculation may justify its suitability. If the design is optimum, and pushing everything to the minimum, then more calculation effort would be required, and therefore more time needed.

Whilst the review process is iterative like the design process it requires fewer iterations than design. Design has to find a valid solution, review only needs to accept or reject a proposal. Review can stop as soon as it hits a point of rejection. However, review should be as refined as necessary before claiming rejection. That is to say there are no further refinements which could be made which by any stretch of the imagination would result in compliance.

In the first instance the reviewer should check all qualitative and attribute requirements before making any quantitative assessment. When they reject they should then identify all non-compliance checks upto the point of first calculation: making it clear that review has stopped. If the qualitative issues will affect calculations, then no point in starting calculation checks.

Thus the defects in buildings are not so much a consequence of poorly educated personnel, but personnel operating in defective systems. Furthermore ISO:9000 accredited organisations are highly likely to have defective quality systems, as typically all they have done is rename contract document management systems to QA systems.

They may monitor drafting errors, but they have few systems in place to monitor design errors, or this thing they like to call engineering. Whilst these days they may have software to do a lot of the calculations, something needs to check and balance the suitability of the software for the task. For example AS4100 does not cover torsion, therefore if a 3D frame has torsion, then would not expect that any 3D design software checking to AS4100 would make valid checks. So have two choices, follow tradition and avoid torsion, so go remove the torsion by changing the connections. Or check the suitability of the members for torsion. {Whilst this is outside the scope of AS4100 to provide a check, it is within the scope of the NCC/BCA that assessing suitability for such action is required, though no method of checking is provided. So code compliance doesn't mean fit-for-function, and NCC/BCA deemed-to-satisfy provisions do not satisfy. So I reiterate if something is merely code compliant it is low quality rubbish.}

So engineering consultancies need to improve their quality systems, understand quality robust design, and better monitor and control design errors. It is not about who to blame, it is about designing the correct process for design. It is about appropriate organisational structure and decision processes. It is about appropriate training and development of personnel. Not everything can be billable.

Writing career episode and work practice reports is not graduate development, and it is not training. Fast tracking graduates to CP.Eng is not in the best interests of society nor the interests of the graduate. They need to know how deficient their knowledge and abilities are, not elevated on a pedestal.

Confidence in design doesn't come from who did the design, but how the design was completed and how it was reviewed and checked.

I have no confidence in design approval  in Queensland and Victoria as it seems built around a self certifying authoritarian cult who fill in silly forms (Form 13 as I remember is used in one of the states). There seems no checks and balances on when they can self certify. And with self certifying there is no feedback to inform the "engineer" just how deficient their knowledge is and how defective their understanding.

For years I thought the SA system was defective because the people on the regulatory side have highly inconsistent competency. So builders move from working in one council area to another, as do the architects and engineers, and they complain about lack of consistency in application of the rules. "I didn't have to do that before", is a common phrase. From which get the impression they will go back to ignoring an issue on their next project in another council area.

Sometimes the council requests seem unreasonable and silly, and have to churn out a stack of pages to declare an issue to be: negligible, zero, insignificant. Pages which wouldn't be required if the regulator had appropriate experience, and knew the issue was of no significance. Various regulations now require that the people issuing certificates of an independent technical expert (CITE), have CP.Eng credentials. Unfortunately the people are mostly the same people as previous, and therefore the inconsistency remains. However, some are good and some are bad, and a designer learns from the good ones, a good designer learns from both. With good ones, it is possible to discuss issues with. The bad ones are authoritarian obstacles to be removed: they blindly apply codes where they are irrelevant, and seem to have little interest in learning and understanding the specifics of a project which make the code more hazard than benefit.

Still, good or bad, two people are more likely to find defects than one person. Also most of the criticism I put in my calculation reports seems to find its way into changes in the code. So by influencing one group of people I indirectly contribute to removing ambiguities and deficiencies in the codes. Not necessary to be out there with my name up in lights.

... continued ...

Confidence doesn't come from knowing that an electrician is licensed and they pay their license fees every year. Confidence comes from knowing that they were properly educated, trained and assessed as competent in the first place. Then knowing that they know their own limitations, and will put the work aside when their capabilities deteriorate with age. If not then expect that there are systems in place and feedback mechanisms which prevent them from doing serious harm.

If an electrician, plumber or builder does their work without it being checked or audited then it is not acceptable. But may consider that is an hassle, given had may have had problems finding an available tradesperson in the first place. However the checks and balances do not have to be direct inspection.

If an electrician does some work on a house then the as-built drawings need to be revised, which means the as-built drawings need to exist. The as-built drawings then get submitted to the regulating authority. If there are issues with the drawings the site can be inspected immediately, if no issues with the drawings the site can be inspected at a much later date. If there are issues at a later date then all the sites can be inspected: which therefore requires knowing all the sites.

Better however is the presence of an independent inspector just prior to the work being closed up and hidden from view.  No payment needs to be made for the work until both the electrician and inspector sign-off on the work. This is not an exercise in collecting signatures and identifying where to lay blame.  It is simply a check on the quality of the work. So a system independent of names and scrap paper can be implemented if possible. For example both electrician and inspector have tagging tools, each receives appropriate tags from the regulator, and each tags the work. The electrician cannot tag the work as inspected because they don't have the right tags and tagging tool. Though something more robust than that is preferable.

The requirement is that the work needs to be demonstrated as correct and that no hazards have been created. So a certain set of tests can be mandated which have to be witnessed by the building owner.

So education, training, and quality assurance system. No registration, no licensing, no system to administer and no licensing fees.  Just need operational systems which have built-in checks and balances. Systems which catch mistakes when the electrician or other trade is having a bad day.


 I got side tracked. I had more to write about the certificate programs. The stepping through the programs, and need for breadth. But cannot remember what it was.

Something along lines of minimum duration of 1 year programme 1500 hours. All programmes start with certificates. But first year is broken into 5 substages. For academic programme, that is minimum of 300 hours for each substage. A maximum of 5 strands to cover breadth. So 60 hours for each strand. A year divided into 50 productive weeks, so 10 weeks for each fifth. Resulting in 6 hours each week for each strand. Possible strands are:

  1. Technology
  2. Technical Drawing / Descriptive Geometry
  3. Mathematics
  4. Physics
  5. Chemistry & Materials
This leaves out such subjects as:
  1. Management
  2. Biology
  3. Geology
  4. Psychology

If these are important subjects, then it maybe seen that the breadth is not great enough. Alternative may consider broader subjects, from my earlier breakdown of subjects:

  1. Design
  2. Technical Drawing & Engineering Graphics
  3. Process Technology: Manufacturing & Construction           
  4. Product Technology: Building Construction
  5. Management, Business and Office Procedures
  6. Legal Framework

This suggests expanding to 6 strands, though legal framework could be combined with the management strand. Also this doesn't directly address mathematics and science, as this is buried in the design and technology subject areas. Or define other broad areas:
  1. Technology
  2. Design
  3. Science
  4. Mathematics
With this approach introduce the technology, then move onto design of the technology, give rise to need for science which in turn gives rise to mathematics. All four strands are increased in depth during the first year, then in second year only science and mathematics are increased.

If more breadth is required then first year may have to comprise of multiple certificate 1 programmes, and therefore will not complete Certificate V in the first year, and will not move onto an associate degree in the second year.

However with proposed system we are now starting the programme at grade 11 not after grade 12. So we have an extra 2 years to the typical 3 year bachelor programme, in which appropriate depth and breadth are developed. Hence my earlier proposal for Diploma I to Diploma V, and Masters I to Masters V. Where grade 11 = Certificate V and grade 12 is Diploma I, and 3 year bachelor degree is Diploma IV, and graduate diploma = Diploma V. Which also means that grade 12 = Associate Degree and thus no longer provides any status in a bachelor programme: as all bachelor programmes have to be completely redesigned to increase depth on the associate degrees.

The importance of the redesign is that people will be ready to enter the workplace earlier and they are qualified to be employed on meaningful work. So they can work whilst they study for higher level qualifications. This is important because many are studying because there is need to get a ticket to employment, low skilled jobs are rapidly taken, therefore difficult to get a job to pay for studies. Not everyone can get a job stocking shelves in a supermarket or working behind a bar: they need qualifications to get a job. So the qualifications need to be quicker to get, but more robust assessment of capability is required.

The staged progress from AQF-1 upwards is the more productive, efficient and higher quality approach than jumping to AQF-7 straight from school. We filter people out at AQF-1, and onwards. So AQF-1 has the harshest and most demanding assessment requirements. For example at AQF-1 expect some 50% are rejected and cannot progress further, by AQF-5 expect only 5% are rejected: by such point people should be on the right path. After AQF-5, still expect that programmes are split into 1/5th blocks or 10 week blocks, and that progressive assessments are made so that a person can quit before going to far. For example they can halt progress to AQF-6 and take another path starting with any other lower AQF level that they have passed. They may decide that AQF-5 is their limit and just choose to increase breadth at that level.

A clever workforce is not one with great depth of knowledge, but rather an adaptive workforce with broad multi-skilling. A builder who has skills in electrical and plumbing work is preferable than need for a group. At an abstract level plumbing and electrical systems are similar: both involve networks with some driving force. For that matter could design and build a fluid power computing device. Which raises the issue that plumbers don't go near fluid power systems whether hydraulic (typically oil) or pneumatic. A plumber is thus not a mechanical engineering technician.

So if could get plumbers and electricians to become multiskilled and move to the next level, that is potentially far better workforce than pushing people through bachelor degrees. As much can be designed and built at the technician level. And more is possible at that level if knowledge was being properly pushed down to where it can empower and enable people to do what they need.

Licensing doesn't enable and empower people to get things done, it hinders them. If I design something which is electrical do I need an electrician to make it, especially if it works of a battery? I can see the need for an electrician if needs to be plugged into the mains. However, they are not electrical technicians, so they wouldn't be entirely capable of  assessing the technology. So we get to the point where the license is the hazard not the safeguard: and we otherwise have no safeguard in place.

What I am doing designing electrical? Why wouldn't I, it's the main power source for factory automation besides fluid power. I know I don't know enough to fully verify fitness-for-function, but I can still design, propose and get full fitness-for-function verified by someone else. Design of a fluid power control system doesn't immediately consider the fluid mechanics, as need to specify a control system before start sizing pipes and pumps. I could probably verify the pipes and pumps if had an appropriate industry manual. Not so much a matter of science, but a matter of design data and standard practice.

Consistent and good practice is dependent on appropriate industry manuals and design data and such references based on local practice are in short supply or just plain none existent. It tends to reflect an inappropriate culture where knowledge is being held to ransom, rather than being appropriately shared to enable and empower the people. {By sharing, I don't mean knowledge has to be available at zero fee, I mean it has to be available from a variety of alternative sources.}


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[17/02/2019] : Original
[26/02/2019] : Minor Edits