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Further education, work and technician qualification: a case study of the TEC certificate in a local college

McIntyre, Terry


Terry McIntyre


The introduction of TEC provision from 1976 has been generally regarded - both by proponents and critics - as significantly advancing the accountability of colleges to 'industrial needs'. The requirement that colleges develop their technician programmes on the basis of consultation with local employers, the identification of particular technician jobs, and the formulation of detailed learning objectives for validation by the Council - all suggest the establishment of a tight, 'rational' framework for determining what is taught. In this respect, the Council may be considered to exemplify contemporary concerns with securing a more 'relevant' education. This study examines the processes by which TEC programmes have been introduced and taken up in FE through a case study of one local college. The study encompasses the local context, the organisational setting and the experience and manner in which various groups - lecturers, students and employers -participated in TEC engineering programmes between 1981 and 1983. It is suggested that, despite the formal objectives and administrative framework established by the Council, the effective processes underpinning the college's programmes can not be adequately understood in terms of the development of 'relevant' skills and attitudes. Not only is the cultural dynamic of the college seen to mediate between such formal objectives and the practical implementation of programmes, but, more fundamentally, the search for and meaning of 'relevance' itself appears to be problematic regarding the notion of 'technician work'. The study suggests that this particular reform of FE may be regarded less as an organised response to changing conditions of work than a strategic intervention seeking to actively restructure those conditions. From this view, the TEC represents an attempt to reorganise work, through the formal processes of occupational qualification, according to perceptions of what may constitute a 'productively efficient' stratification of work in industry.


McIntyre, T. (1986). Further education, work and technician qualification: a case study of the TEC certificate in a local college

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