Meet our student

Dr. Karen O’Reilly-Briggs David Myers Scholarship

Researcher

Course of study:
Doctor of Education 2016

I am a qualified metal engineering tradesperson with many years of experience working as a metal fabricator and pressure vessel welder. After honing my craft over many years, I decided to become a teacher and teach my trade to tradespeople and apprentices at TAFE.

Some of my lecturers and supervisors at La Trobe are also qualified tradespeople, and this was an important factor for me in deciding to study education. I completed an apprenticeship after leaving secondary school, and I hadn’t been to university before enrolling at La Trobe as a mature student. Eventually, I would like to achieve a position that would enable me to use my research and industry knowledge to improve both the trade and apprenticeship education system and the professional opportunities available for tradespeople in Australia.

My PhD research investigated the quality of metal engineering trade vocational education, and how education provision for tradespeople and apprentices has changed in response to ongoing reform in the VET sector, such as the adoption of competency-based training, training packages, marketisation, and other policy changes. My research revealed a noticeable deterioration of the quality and substance of the educational provision offered to metal trade apprentices over the past three decades. This finding has inspired me to pursue a direction aimed at rectifying the current deficiencies in provision for the purposes of improving the professional opportunities of tradespeople, restoring concepts of craftsmanship, and elevating the status of tradespeople and artisans in society.

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