Industry Driving the Skills Agenda in Asia
Cisco Australia & New Zealand
General Manager, Education
People and Culture, Thought Leadership
Economies in Asia are digitising at a rate and scale that is creating major challenges predicting and fulfilling their talent needs. In this context the training sector has never been more important to economic success, and Australia needs to learn from jurisdictions at the front of the wave. Singapore and Hong Kong are two of the most progressive jurisdictions globally when it comes to revitalising and modernising their career and technical education sectors, having invested in adapting systems, curriculum, pedagogy, industry engagement and infrastructure to make students more job-ready. Singapore and Hong Kong were logical destinations for the 2018 CTE study tour hosted by TAFE Directors Australia (TDA).
There are major implications of digitisation and Industry 4.0 for vocational training providers
Digitisation and Industry 4.0 are having profound implications for training institutes. First, it is changing the nature of the labour market as automation eliminates some roles, transforms others and creates new ones. Second, it elevates human skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration and communication (skills more difficult to replace by machines).
Digital is an economic growth engine, not a threat to the economy
While there is a lot of focus on the replacement of jobs through technology, including the role of artificial intelligence / machine learning, it is also creating jobs. Job creation occurs in two areas:
Singapore and Hong Kong have capitalised on growing demand for skills in robotics, AI and cyber security. To demonstrate, the Vocational Training Council (VTC) in Hong Kong focuses on experiential learning for students at its campuses, particularly in relation to digital technologies. Students run their own IoT experiments, classrooms are routinely fitted with augmented and virtual reality capability.
There were a number of major themes investigated as part of the study tour
Australia’s Training model risks being unfit for purpose for technology driven work
Approaches to training in Singapore and Hong Kong highlight that Australia’s accreditation of training content and the approach to delivery through the Training Package model does not fit the needs of industry for adaptable digitally capable workers.
Within Training Packages, the tightly prescribed assessment requirements against specific job functions for job roles focuses training on tasks. Most employers, including those in new industries and or those adopting new technologies, recognise that graduates need knowledge and capabilities that make them open to learning new technologies and adapting in the workplace. Hong Kong has changed its approach to training and learning and VTC has achieved an average of 90% graduate employment rate.
There are a number of opportunities available to institutes to more effectively serve industry, including changing how students learn and think, not just what they learn.
Two areas where urgent investment is required are classroom technology and cyber security. The case for investment in Smart Classroom technology is compelling but commercial business cases have tended to be weak or non-existent. Too often business cases focus on technology features rather than benefits to student engagement and outcomes. As part of the study, Cisco and Optus showcased their Smart Classroom business case tool, which is available to Australian TAFEs.
Re-framing the role and relevance of CTE
Enrolments in training are declining at the precise moment Australia should be elevating the importance of this sector. As the pace of change accelerates, Australia will depend more than ever on its capacity to produce graduates who are employable from day one (in the eyes of industry) and able to fill major skills shortages quickly before they impede economic growth.
As the local economy pivots to digital it is hard to rationalise why student participation and funding for vocational education and training is declining. This is not the case in advanced economies such as Singapore and Hong Kong and shouldn’t be so in Australia.
Want to learn more about the current state of CTE and the findings of the recent Career and Technical Education Summit?
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