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  1. rob woolley
    December 6, 2017 @ 1:06 pm

    “There’s an incredible amount of experience in the 55- 64 age bracket … we need to know how to tap into that experience and maybe pair them up with younger workers”

    Gosh Jack, good luck with that one.
    I think we rely near totally on Generational Change (school-leavers/returning graduates) to drive ‘developmental growth’ in the bush.

    Earning a quid in rural Australia is a mixed bag. Land managers face unpredictable shifts in offshore competition and changing weather patterns; not all bad.
    Non-professional townsfolk are arguably at the mercy of a broader range of impacts while public servants and professionals in general are remunerated on a parity basis with their city cousins.

    They are all however, a necessary and integral part of the bush economy. Every one is valued for their dedication-to-place.

    Out with the old and in with the new is not an adage embraced in the bush. However, that which is potentially transferable to the bush ought not be evaluated through the same lens.

    The focus of this essay is Technology Transfer and Take-up.

    For the purpose of this discussion I should draw attention to the fact that outside of TAFE Colleges in regional centers, there are no post school technical education facilities suited to Self-Directed Learners.
    Active Mechanics Institutes notwithstanding!

    I am referring to a continuum-void that, in my opinion all-but rules out a return to technology focused enquiry later in adult life.

    Diversification in its many forms and innovation in rural settings in general, is underpinned by technology transfer and take-up. Including IT, but not limited to!

    The technology I am referring to includes machines, techniques and apparatus often found in the workshops of enthusiasts who build stuff. Infact, making stuff contextualizes enquiry and tends to build on existing understandings.
    An engaging quality not lost on adult learners I might add.

    Innovation by definition expands out of existing understandings.
    That claim mind you, is seemingly at odds with policy settings in Australia.

    This discussion is purposely not developed in the context of trade/craft skill instruction. The main reason being it would be cost prohibitive to go down that path for every rural town in Australia and likely as not, ineffective in changing place-based opportunity.

    There is however one community organization existing in rural towns in Australia that ticks many of the boxes associated with Technology Transfer and Take-up, not to mention the sensitivity required to effectively engage with a particular cohort at risk of being unduly impacted in challenging times; in particular, middle aged males, not directly connected to the land, who may have been early school leavers.

    The facility I have in mind operates in the public domain, has government backing but sets priorities at the local level.

    A facility where scientific phenomena by any other name gets a run alongside industrial machines, tools of trade and project based discovery.

    An un-likely epicentre of formal technology-transfer and take-up in a small rural town, the MENS SHED never the less ticks a lot of boxes.

    Peculiarly proficient, due in my opinion to the combined maturity, it behaves like an experiential discovery hub of self directed learners.
    (non self directed learners hopefully are still at school)

    STEM: Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics backgrounds are surprisingly well represented in the Shed I have in mind.

    Scientific instrument making, veterinary science, ultra lite foam sandwich carbon fibre construction techniques, Math teaching, TIG MIG aluminium stainless and mild steel welding competencies, fine woodworking, electro-mechanical devices, manufacturing and local government. Not to mention an abundance of land, animal and crop management skills. MABA (mature age business administrators) abound.

    The combined competencies carry the day. In no way a teaching institution, in every way a project oriented discovery centre.

    The Mens Shed would fall in a heap and no longer serve its intended function should it convert to a formal adult education role.
    That said however, the founding-purpose should not preclude individual Sheds from specific initiatives that promote awareness of the potential applications for technology in rural settings.

    For instance, relatively cheap temperature and moisture measuring/monitoring devices are available in kit form from electronic enthusiast outlets. Handheld pointing thermometers have endless applications in the bush, from avoiding contact with rotating machinery when checking bearing temperature to compost heaps or getting a quick fix on soil temperature.

    Measurement and control technology is no longer restricted to rocket scientists, we ought not continue to treat it as such just because of our address.

    Evidence of understanding is in the making. Outcomes from output.
    A person who produces an object valued by others is not only deemed to have discovered and developed capabilities, but had the experience authenticated.

    Without going into direct competition with Harvard mba courses ,(master of business administration) Mens sheds, with meeting facilities, could look to hosting maba (mature age business administration) courses, complete with operational demonstration projects and working models on the shop floor. In part a New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), in form, a whole lot more.

    apologies for ageing

    rob woolley


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