If this year’s unprecedented events have taught us anything in the VET industry, it's that learners need to be able to upskill, have skills that can be translated into various jobs, and have complementary skill-sets. We also know from this year’s NCVER ‘No Frills’ event that almost all workers will need to retrain or upskill throughout their working lives.
This accelerating change in learner and worker requirements has translated to a future of training that is looking more vibrant than ever. So, let’s make sure we stay agile and proactive in our planning by focusing on the future.
Microcredentials—a buzzword that is becoming increasingly important for training, and learner and industry expectations. These highly-targeted short courses provide a certification of assessed learning that is additional, alternative, complementary to or a component part of a formal qualification.
Currently, microcredentials are at the forefront of professional skill sets, with employers actively seeking these learning experiences from potential candidates. Their bite-sized nature, ease of access, and industry-specific focus amplifies the relevancy of microcredentials.
Shorter form credentials are meant to complement full qualifications, rather than replace them, and also contribute to lifelong learning. In an RTO, supporting your learners’ lifelong learning means offering continuous education beyond completion, resulting in longer enrolments. This moves beyond the VET industry’s current tight focus on safety and compliance.
Microcredentials can also be used for credit recognition or recognition of prior learning (RPL). Giving academic credit and precise RPL for microcredentials can boost enrolment numbers and completion of full programs due to higher student satisfaction levels.
We’re living in a time where in the near future a three or four year degree may be unfit to keep up with the needs of the current workforce, where skills need to be constantly updated and knowledge consistently refreshed. Learners and workers need a skill set, but many employers are unsure of how to discern what skills are actually needed.
Microcredentials provide an opportunity to easily articulate and execute these skills, with more recognition for units of competency completed.
Another big win gained from embracing microcredentials is reducing the digital skills gap through rapid development of in-demand technology and digital skills. With the evident trend towards online training, microcredentials will continue to play a big part in training.
Flexibility, employability and recognition—these are the components learners and workers alike want for personal and professional development and experience. With learners taking advantage of guaranteed pathways from microcredentials into work experience and more, employers benefit too with increased ease in finding people with the right skills and knowledge under their belt. And, with the flexibility and career opportunities microcredentials provide for current workers, employee satisfaction levels are likely to rise.
All in all, the future of microcredentials in training is expansive, or dare we say, macro, and is expected to continuously develop, evolve and create change for the VET industry.
Along with microcredentials, the development of a skill-based approach to training and assessment is the sustainable foundation for the future of training. A more modular approach for learners, where they can complete various modules that can make up a full qualification, can provide the agility needed to regenerate the economy.
Learners have an expectation of what their learning experience should look like, and know when they’re having a good experience, or when their training provider may not be keeping up with where technology in education is advancing to. In Angela Connell’s RTO Superhero podcast, aXcelerate Managing Director Reay Mackay discussed that this is something aXcelerate is focusing on by adapting our software to enable RTOs to deliver this more modular training.
Data management is another key component of this as it becomes more and more artificial intelligence driven. Systems that are automated and recommend training courses, assessments and more of which learners or clients need to progress in their training development will assist in driving the change needed to propel the current and future workforce of Australia.
Work-based learning (WBL) is and will continue to be a central priority of VET, emphasising learning through practice in the workplace. WBL is essential for ensuring learners are workforce-ready. Real-time competency based assessment complements WBL through ensuring trainers understand students’ needs, and being able to provide real-time feedback that identifies areas of improvement. These real-time learnings from work experiences, employers and trainers are highly valuable for learners. Learn more about WBL here.
In NSW, the School to Work Program has been supporting students from Year 6 all the way to Year 12 to explore career futures, plan transition pathways, build connections and networks and strengthen student outcomes through vocational learning. In 2019, 81% of NSW schools provided work experience, career development, identification of transferable skills and more, and the program will no doubt grow in importance going into 2021.
Although the integration of microcredentials and other short courses is an important goal for the Australian VET industry, the priority will be getting the economy back on its feet through funding, getting people skilled for work, and upskilling the current workforce.
By now, JobTrainer is probably a familiar topic in your RTO, as this funding will have a huge impact on VET reform. In 2021, we’ll be seeing many more apprenticeships and traineeships, and a higher-skilled workforce.
Want to learn more about how aXcelerate is taking on the future world of training and education by storm? Listen to Reay and Katie Mackay from aXcelerate talk to Angela Connel on the RTO Superhero Podcast here, or on Spotify.
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