AI and Strategic Foresight Applied to the Australian VET System and Qualification Reform

AI can mean Appreciative Inquiry as well as Artificial Intelligence, and visiting the USA earlier this year, it has become very clear about the things that are working well in Australia’s VET system, where applying this Appreciative Inquiry methodology asks how we amplify these strengths.

So, what are some of the components of VET in Australia that other countries, like the US, might like to have?  Here’s my top pick list of 9:

  1. Ability to customise programs and create new courses at a state/territory or national level
  2. Competency Based Education that is well developed and par for the course
  3. Industry involvement in the design of qualifications and competencies
  4. Microcredentials supported by a National Framework
  5. National Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs) with core functions of Workforce Planning, Training Product Development, Implementation, Promotion and Monitoring, Industry Stewardship
  6. Regional Development Australia network across the country aiding economic and workforce development
  7. School Based Apprenticeships that provide points or credit towards high school student achievements
  8. Version of consistent, national curriculum via Training Packages
  9. Work on Capabilities & Learner Profile for example via SACE in South Australia

And whilst focussing on strengths, I’ve written many blogs and commented on policy over the years about changes that need to be made now, such as:

  1. A vision for the Australian workforce, the VET system and products
  2. Addressing the needs of deskless workers
  3. Misguided investment on a possible National Skills Passport
  4. Number of RTOs (public, private, enterprise, ACE – whatever type) needs to be reduced by about 25% to get rid of the bottom players to save our worldclass reputation
  5. 1 VET regulator
  6. Out of date competencies, qualifications and Training Packages
  7. Qualifications structure that looks like a 4 layered cake: Core skills – 21st Century literacies (building upon foundation skills); Functional skills; Industry essential skill; Industry/job specific skills
  8. Targeted approach to Workforce Plan Year 2 by JSCs that utilises latest technologies, AI and a strategic foresight methodology that defines a preferred workforce scenario of 2025-27 and possibly out to 2030
  9. Utilising an international skills database in seconds if not minutes applying AI tools to build skills profiles and qualifications

Moving on with positive, practical next steps, imagine envisioning a Preferred Futures Scenario for the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) System in 2025-27 and 2030.

In a strategic foresight-driven scenario for the year 2027, the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) system is transformed into a world-class model that robustly addresses the evolving needs of jobs, careers, workforces, employers, industries, regions, and learners. This scenario is crafted through systematic exploration of emerging trends, technological advancements, and socio-economic shifts.

Integration of Cutting-edge Technologies

By 2025, the VET system fully integrates advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) to enhance learning experiences and training outcomes. These technologies facilitate immersive learning environments that simulate real-world job scenarios, enabling learners to gain hands-on experience in a virtual setting. AI-driven platforms provide personalised learning pathways and career guidance, ensuring that each learner’s journey is optimised for their skills and career aspirations.

Alignment with Industry Needs

The VET system of 2025-27 is closely aligned with industry needs, driven by continuous collaboration with employers and industry leaders. Curriculum development is dynamic and responsive, with rapid updates to course offerings reflecting emerging industry trends and skill demands. Real-time labour market data feeds into the curriculum development process, ensuring that the VET offerings remain relevant and proactive in addressing future job market requirements.

Regional Customisation and Support

Strategic foresight in the VET system also emphasises the importance of regional customisation. Programs are tailored to meet the specific needs of different regions, supporting local industries and addressing unique workforce challenges. This localised approach ensures that all regions of Australia have access to quality training that boosts their economic prospects and meets the specific demands of their local job markets.

Inclusive and Accessible Learning

The VET system is designed to be inclusive and accessible to all learners, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds and remote areas. Strategies such as mobile training units, outreach programs, and partnerships with community organisations help to deliver training across diverse communities. Financial support schemes and scholarships are enhanced to ensure that financial barriers do not prevent talented individuals from accessing vocational training.

Strong Governance and Stakeholder Engagement

Governance of the VET system is characterised by strong leadership and effective stakeholder engagement. A national VET advisory board, comprising representatives from industry, academia, government, and civil society, oversees the strategic direction of the VET system. This governance structure ensures that the system is agile, responsive, and aligned with both national priorities and global best practices.

This preferred future scenario for Australia’s VET system in 2025-27 reflects a proactive, strategic, and inclusive approach to vocational education and training. By applying strategic foresight, the system not only adapts to emerging challenges but also shapes the future of education and workforce development in Australia, ensuring that it remains at the forefront of global VET systems.

I’ve been working on Applying Strategic Foresight in Workforce Planning and Development, as well as preferred workforce scenarios for different industry sectors, organisations and regions.

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