CEO Update – October 2018

Ensuring people have the right skills at the right time has never been more important. While technology is changing much about how we do our jobs, it is people who will transform the workplace. The AIS Industry Skills Forums being rolled out across the country are continuing to be a great success. The message from the forums is clear: vocational education and agile workplace learning are essential for all businesses striving to deliver their current services as well as having to respond to intense technological change.

MC Kerry O’Brien is moderating Q&A panel discussions that feature leaders from business, employee and employer representatives, and the education and training sector. Common themes emerging from the forums are: digital skills will be needed across every occupation; automation across many industries is creating opportunities for workers, allowing them to be ‘upskilled’ into diverse roles; industry and all levels of government have a shared responsibility to investing in training the workforce of the future; transferability of skills will become more important as employees change careers throughout their working lives.

Following the panel discussions, AIS Industry Managers are facilitating industry-specific breakout sessions where stakeholders have provided further insights into the current and emerging skill needs of their sectors. This industry intelligence will feed into the 2019 Skills Forecasts and future Training Package development.

Forums have already been held in Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and this week in Hobart. We are looking forward to the remaining forums to be held in Darwin, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide over the next 5 weeks. Register for the skills forum in your capital city.

Hundreds of global vocational education and training (VET) experts came together at the Melbourne Convention Centre for this year’s World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) World Congress. The need for a futuristic vision in vocational education and training to skill the workforce of tomorrow was encapsulated in the theme ‘Preparing for the skills future, Now’. The theme of digital transformation flowed through the three-day multi-faceted event, which included site visits to TAFEs, workshops, plenary sessions, exhibitions and the WFCP Awards of Excellence Presentation. All focused on new ways of integrating knowledge and skills with automation disruptions.

I, too, addressed the future skilling theme through my presentation at the ‘Changing World of Work’ break-out session; ‘Digital Transformation – Future Skilling our People’.

I explained that skills demands in the future will be defined by the level and extent of technology used in work. Skilling of the workforce will be critical for industry and educators as the global environment evolves and emerging technologies impact job requirements. While new opportunities are driving the economy, there are challenges to ensure business can access a sustainable, flexible and high-quality workforce with the relevant skills.  If we come together to address these challenges, we can help maintain and lift living standards around the world.

TAFE Directors CEO, Craig Robertson pictured with AIS CEO Robert Adams

I was joined by Dr Marilyn Herie from the Centennial College in Canada who used historical visions of the future to remind us that confronting technological transformation is nothing new. Megan Lilly from AI Group, drew on compelling data to explain that the technology revolution is creating a bright future for manufacturing. She highlighted that the key to accelerating the diffusion of Industry 4.0 is a sufficient and growing supply of skilled people. “Higher level skills, more autonomous work roles, changed concepts of management and more frequent re-skilling are all needed. New approaches to education and training are critical. And there has to be a renewed focus on workplace learning and lifelong learning.’

Speaking at one of the Congress group workshops on the theme Global skills and Labour Mobility, AIS COO Paul Walsh discussed challenges and opportunities for vocational education in a global context. Along with Professor Devinder Grewal, Paul shared AIS’ experiences working with the Vietnamese logistics sector in an Aus4Skills program that is helping to develop the first industry-led VET framework in Vietnam.

AIS is contributing to the growth in international skills training by facilitating projects that are part of an overall strategy for international education. The key objectives of this strategy include support to improve access to skilled labour in overseas countries, greater mobility of skilled labour across the region and to promote Australian VET frameworks and products.