It’s been a long time brewing – spilling the tea on jobs, skills & VET in Australia + AI chatbot results

Good morning

The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP is in Adelaide this morning at AIEC 2023 and this content has been a long time brewing about jobs, skills & VET in Australia.

Building upon the need for:

  • A vision for the Australian Workforce (can you believe that most other countries, particularly developing countries, have had documented visions in place that they have been working on for decades, often with a 5-year timeframe that is updated and iterative);
  • and innovative, creative funding options to support a pragmatic target unemployment rate.

Outlined in this blog from February 2022 on, What will Unemployment Rates With a 3 in Front of it do for Labour and Skills Shortages in Australia?

In the blog, Fostering a collaborative, diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial community – understanding development needs of entrepreneurs with opportunities for TAFEs and VET (November 2022) I suggested:

  • 1 efficient and effective regulator
  • 25% reduction of Registered Training Organisations (remove ghost RTOs and the bottom 20%) NB. this is provider type agnostic.
  • Microcredentials that can be used to test the appetite for new programs and products
  • Structure of core skills, functional skills, industry essential and job specific skills that are develop in a way that means they can last around 5 years before needing updating. A starting point would be to Growth Hack the existing database of units of competency into this structure before dividing it up along JSC lines.
  • Streamlined industry advice because the map is messy right now – the suggested Industry Cluster model is not the answer an even thought the horse may have bolted this blog suggest an alternative structure with mega clusters based upon the structure of the economy and jobs, i.e. Essential; Enabling; Experience; Entrepreneurship and scaling up; Emerging growth areas.

Recommendations for Australian VET System Reform and VET Workforce Blueprint (June 2023) included:

  • Taxonomy – The fact that some people consider that Australia should have its own skills taxonomy that is not inter-operable with other countries system is arrogant and naïve.
  • Trainers and assessors – Often the unsung heroes, I remember back in the day when the trainers from hospitality where award winning chefs and the fashion trainers went to Paris and Milan for industry currency and inspiration. And perhaps this happens in small pockets, but trainers and assessors should represent the best of their industry sectors. It is this level of mastery that we should be aiming for the in the VET Workforce Blueprint.
  • Training Packages – Renovation and Revival. There is an easy way to think about streamlining units of competency that creates qualifications by having a structure of core skills, functional skills, industry essential and industry/job specific (technical) skills. Tagging units in this way would identify many areas of duplication where the same type of skill has been developed across many different industry sectors and Training Packages. This structure would look like a 4 layered cake with 1. Core skills – 21st Century literacies (building upon foundation skills); 2. Functional skills; 3. Industry essential skills; 4. Industry/job specific skills.
  • How can the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) be integrated into Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Workforce Development

Get Insights from ASK JAMES PALMERS AI Chatbot on Working Future: The Australian Government’s White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities (September 2023), covering the questions that people asked and key themes.

With recent announcements by Ministers on Stamping out dodgy VET providers (again) and the Address to the National Press Club – Skilling the Nation for the Future, Brendan says,

“Vocational education and training must be held in the same high public esteem as a university pathway – just as it is in countries such as Germany and Switzerland.”

But that means deeply understanding how the system works in these countries. In Germany, an industry organisation undertakes the assessment, at arms length from the training provider and this means they are jointly responsible for quality. Curriculum content is chunked up, meaning it can work for around 5 years, there is no fully off the job or fully on the job training, only the dual system, which is on and off the job training combined, and apprenticeships are just about legislated for employers and industry. So this would mean big changes in Australia’s VET system which I believe we need to test out, but also take good practices from globally leading countries.

Finally, I’ve observed an avoidance of a discussion around the impact of generative AI on the nitty gritty of jobs, skills and the VET system, and whilst is has been identified as a mega trend, I was surprised to hear that ‘clerk’ (such an old fashioned term) would be a high demand job role for the next 10 years or so at a recent Jobs and Skills Australia presentation.

We will be able to easily analyse the duplication in units of competency and qualifications, generate real time skills, customised and draw upon international skills frameworks, utilising generative AI. And we are trialling AI enhanced strategic workforce planning and development, so please feel free to get in touch, share this email and blogs, plus let me know what you think in a positive, constructive way.

Australia’s international reputation in VET/TVET, workforce planning and development needs to be lifted. I believe we need to recast the National Workforce Strategy 2022-27, build out possible scenarios, and choose a scenario that is preferred that all stakeholders can get behind, which is informed by global good practice, and realises that skills are not ‘Australian’ but international. Hence we should be drawing upon existing skills libraries and work from the EU, USA, Canade, UK, Singapore, NZ, as well as CEDEFOP, the UN, ILO and OECD.

Hope this prompts some discussion and questions, as well as thinking into action, thanks.

PS. Skills passport is a 20 year old idea… can’t see much innovation with this idea & what problem is it solving?

Kind regards

Wendy Perry, Managing Director, Workforce BluePrint


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