At long last an industry specific degree course in graphic technology is about to be researched, developed and launched, all in a very tight timeframe.
State and Federal grants are in place and the first students need to be identified and set for enrolment by September 2003, with a start date for the degree planned for March 2004.
In the background, Collie Trust director and project director Howard Dare, has been more than energetic and single-minded in getting most of the hurdles cleared, whilst getting together two consultative groups whose task it will be to ensure the course delivery in to meet the early 2004 deadline.
To quote Howard Dare "there is no way we won’t meet the deadlines set!"
Whilst the course is to be developed and designed by RMIT University, it will be destined for a national audience and participation, using the resources of RMIT University, as well as academic partners from around the nation.
As part of the development, and to accommodate delivery of the course content, there will be significant changes and repositioning to what was RMIT TAFE-Printing and establishing what will be known as the International Centre for Graphic Technology [ICGT].
The first stage in this new strategy is the delivery and design of a Bachelor of Communications- Graphic Technology.
The uniqueness of the program has been researched by a series of workshops in both Melbourne and Sydney, the outcomes showed very clearly that there is a pent-up demand for higher education to meet the growing demand in the areas of printing and economic activities within the greater industry.
It has been identified that there is a need for a programme, but at the same time a sceptical view that required outcomes may not be delivered.
Smaller companies in particular have a view that a specific degree course in printing may not deliver the specific requirements demanded by them, and not address business issues, which are constantly ringing alarm bells in their companies.
Naturally enough it is important to develop content and delivery processes which are relevant and convenient and with the customer’s business wants and needs in mind.
More importantly at the moment it is a high priority to put together a group of experienced individuals with focus on the aforementioned issues. This group will involve key personnel from printing companies, unions, trade associations, and suppliers.
The integration of the course will have a focus on the post graduate activities in trade apprenticeships, as well as opening opportunities at senior college levels post year 12 studies, as well as providing traineeship opportunities within the industry.
The degree will involve three years of study with an degree outcome being Bachelor of Communications. The program will be a national initiative with flexible options for students. Agreements with other universities is an imperative to ensure its national flavour, this will be negotiated by the project team with other providers outside of RMIT to ensure national access for all students.
At the same time the delivery program will be integrated into RMIT University offerings and delivery structure.
Key Issues for the degree course and future direction for the ICGT:
• To address established concerns related to industry and skill forecasts.
• To reflect industry dissatisfaction with current flexibility and content for existing programmes.
• To provide linkage to the proposed centre of excellence for Digital Design.
• To provide guidance to the implementation of the innovation agenda.
• To optimise industry participation with respect to both inputs and outcomes.
• To ensure focus on life-long learning in the knowledge economy.
• To embed pathways between schooling, VET and higher education, thereby increasing opportunities for industry entrants.
The process as a whole is complicated and involved, and with these few words no one can do justice to the importance of this initiative.
For as many years as I can remember, the industry has pleaded for an industry specific higher education platform which will deliver a better educated manager to an industry which is becoming more challenging by the day.
It is a huge responsibility for the industry to support its development, but even more important to support the whole project by providing an opportunity for those people whom will become key employees of the future.
It is simply not an opportunity to leave it to that mystery person "someone else"! The responsibility must be shouldered by the industry as a whole.
Well done RMIT... and so say all of us!
Rod Spencer is a 40 year print industry veteran. He was Heidelberg ANZ sales director for many years and is now an industry consultant. He is based in Australia.
Contact Rod Spencer via email: firstname.lastname@example.org