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Prominence of digital in the career & technical education sector

Prominence of digital in the career & technical education sector
Embracing digital in the learning process. Annella Heytens reflects on the recent TAFE Directors Australia conference.
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Prominence of digital in the career & technical education sector

Annella Heytens
Cisco
Vice President, Human Resources, APJC

06 Oct 2017
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It was fascinating to join the 2017 TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) conference held in Adelaide in September. The conference attracts the vast majority of Australian CEOs from Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges, as well as delegates from industry and overseas institutions.

I was on a panel on stage together with the Director of Talent Management from SingTel Group and we spoke about the pace of change in our own organizations and new demands from a talent management, skills capability and training perspective.

Executives at the conference were interested in the challenges posed by digital, but also the opportunities. As you can imagine, the role of digital is a major topic of conversation.

The Career & Technical Education (CTE) sector is experiencing the effects of digital on three fronts:

  1. It is making the forecasting of skill demands even more challenging
  2. It is raising the expectations of students, particularly millennials
  3. It is disrupting their business and operating models

The demands of the digital economy flow through to Cisco’s own workforce and delegates at the TDA conference were interested in how Cisco had changed to become more agile and more responsive to our customers and our own workforce. I also recently wrote in a blog of the fact that new jobs will emerge and different skillsets will be required as businesses and industries transform and the CTE sector will be an important source of talent. In fact, a World Economic Forum report indicates that 65% of those in primary schooling age now will be in jobs that have never existed, many of them likely to be STEM-based and high value.

The importance of the CTE sector in meeting current skills challenges was also recently highlighted by Cisco’s Asia Pacific and Japan President, Irving Tan, in his blog focused on skilling next-generation and current workforce.

Singapore as a model

Amid a fast-changing labour market upended by rapid technological disruption, as well as an ageing and shrinking workforce, the Singapore Government has been looking at how the workforce can be better prepared for future jobs, and how they can acquire the necessary skills and experience needed. This is a model that other countries can learn from.

The importance of embracing digital in the learning process

Another important element of the TDA conference was the Cisco Smart Classroom demonstration at Tonsley – Adelaide’s (and Australia’s) most advanced innovation precinct. The demonstration included opening remarks from the CEO of South West TAFE who implemented the Smart Classroom technology more than 12 months ago. He spoke of how the dynamic classroom environment not only empower students with the skills needed for today’s increasingly digital and automated world, but also help them remain in the region because they could access immersive instruction and high quality material regardless of location. CTE institutions are now realizing that the response to digital needs to include learning spaces, not just changing skillsets.

A digital CTE sector

The TDA conference represented another step forward in Cisco’s relationship and commitment towards supporting the CTE sector in the region. During this trip, I also had an opportunity to present broadly on workforce transformation to the Board of TDA, which is mostly made up of CEOs from institutes and larger systems.

It is an exciting time for these institutions to embrace digital in continuing to develop skilled workers for the future. We, at Cisco, will also continue to bring an industry perspective to a topic that is vital to the region’s economic prosperity, and work with the CTE industry to drive the sector’s potential and growth in the digital economy.

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