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Frequent, flexible and cutting-edge training options are in demand. Increasingly people need new skills to keep pace with changes in the workplace driven by digitisation, automation and new technology. Here are some insights into the changing nature of work and how skill gaps can be best met by short course providers.
We are on the brink of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ led by automation and new technology. This is bringing change to jobs - some disappearing and new ones emerging. People are also living longer, which means longer working lives. To remain relevant, individuals are looking for ways to continually upskill and reskill; to progress in their career or continue to prosper in roles undergoing digital transformation.
Recently Deloitte conducted a survey of nearly 4,000 Australian workers nationally, across age groups, genders and locations. The report ‘Higher Education for a Changing World: Ensuring the 100-year Life is a Better Life’ found that more than half of all respondents - 55 per cent - were either currently engaged in study, had recently completed it or would contemplate studies in the near future.
Whether its a "live to learn" philosophy or a "learn or die" mentality, lifelong learning is really the only option!
The digital technologies that are already here and those just around the corner, such as artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous vehicles, are changing the nature of work and types of training demanded in a digital economy. The size of Australia’s digital economy is forecasted to reach $139bn by 2020. The question is are we ready?
Recent research by NCVER on ‘Skilling the Australian workforce for the digital economy’ identified the need to develop the digital skills of the general workforce, well beyond ICT departments, if Australia is to compete in a rapidly emerging global digital economy. Of concern to vocational education and training (VET) is the shortfall in digital skills training content in current training packages - more than half of industry survey respondents were not satisfied with the digital skills of VET graduates.
To ensure a fit workforce for the digital future, digital skills training will be required across all industries and occupational levels. While there is estimated to be a net job creation from technology, we need to get practical about upskilling workers to adapt to the digital age.
The exponential expansion of the digital economy and necessity for continuous learning is driving demand for short, flexible, customised skills training. Individuals are looking for training that meets specific skills gaps and they want options that are both cost-effective and time-effective.
When selecting training options, often the priority is to acquire the right skills and not just obtain a formal qualification. The 2018 Deloitte report revealed a very large number of students enrolled in non-accredited education and training - just under one-third of respondents were currently engaged in a course of study that was not recognised under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and almost 40 per cent indicated they would undertake non-AQF training in the future.
A related trend is the ‘unbundling’ degrees in the higher education sector and the offering of micro-credentials. For example, the University of New England’s new bespoke courses offers students the option to ‘study just the parts of a degree you need’ by selecting units from a single degree, or to 'mix and match' units from different degrees.
Given that 95% of human resource managers actively seek micro-credentials from potential candidates it's no wonder that short, customised learning experiences are becoming the forefront of professional skill sets.
Longer lives, advances in technology and the global digital network are major forces shaping the workforce and the future of training. While there are no certainties about what exactly the future holds, we can already see how these trends are changing the way work gets done and the skills needed to do it.
There is a huge untapped demand for small, bite-sized, flexible learning alternatives to traditional degree, diploma and certificate courses. While the government works on a digital skills framework, clever VET providers will work more closely with industry in the design and delivery of short, bespoke courses that connect the needs of business, technology and the individual.