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DEVELOPING DIGITAL SKILLS

Do Training Packages support the development of digital skills? NCVER has released a working paper drawn from a research partnership between Australian Industry Standards (AIS) and RMIT University. The research involved analysis of 11 Training Packages and focussed on the transport and logistics, public safety, and correctional services sectors to investigate how effectively they equip the workforce with the appropriate digital skills to support the growing digital economy.

The 2017 IRC Skills Forecasts relating to these sectors identified technological and digital skills as priority issues. The term ‘digital skills’ is used to encompass the combination of knowledge, competence and attitude relating to all facets of digital technologies – from hardware, software, information systems, security and innovation, to theoretical comprehension and interaction with digital devices.

The research team acknowledged the great assistance it received from the Chairs and members of each of the involved Industry Reference Committees (IRCs). AIS Chief Executive Officer, Robert Adams, said “this work will be an important input for the IRCs in their future deliberations about the Training Packages they are responsible for.”

Among its key findings, the paper identifies:

  • that the VET system contains a significant amount of digital training content, spread across different Units of Competency.
  • The analysis also suggests that digital skills training content is available for all occupations across the sectors, and at all levels. Interestingly, there appears to be more digital skills content in operational level occupations than in higher-skills occupations.
  • Of the 3331 units of competency reviewed, 758 contained references to digital skills search terms, with the Transport and Logistics Training Package containing the greatest amount.
  • Skills related to social media, social networks, big data analytics, online collaboration, online security, data breach, digital risk and process innovation are noticeably missing from the analysed Training Packages.

The paper also identifies an opportunity to develop a uniform industry approach to conceptualising and articulating digital skills and how they should be measured. It proposes that a ‘national digital skills framework’, modelled in likeness to the National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LLN), could guide the development of appropriate and adequate skills for the emerging economy. This effort would be informed by existing international practices such as the European digital competency framework.

The next stage of this project — comprising key industry interviews and a survey of employers — will further explore what employers have specified as digital skills needs in job advertisements and how this compares with the content in the relevant Training Packages.

A copy of the report can be obtained here.