DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION SKILLS STRATEGY FOCUSSES ON LEAVING NO AUSTRALIAN WORKER BEHIND
The World Economic Forum calls it ‘The Great Reset’. Some refer to it as ‘double disruption’. Convergence of the global pandemic and digital transformation have together hastened the adoption of technology at a rate few of us thought possible and has rapidly accelerated the future of work. In a matter of months, businesses have leapt ahead years in their digital journey.
The newly released strategy by the Digital Transformation Expert Panel, sets out what Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) system needs to do to support our nation’s workforce through the impact of digital change underway across industry.
The Strategy emphasises that our training system needs to move quickly given predictions* that by 2034:
- Automation will displace 2.7m Australian workers
- Technology will supplement 4.5m Australian workers, leading to a 15% capacity uplift to Australian businesses.
Established in 2019 by the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC), the Panel has examined the cutting-edge policy settings of several leading digital economies. Closer to home, the Panel studied what is already underway here in Australia and engaged with hundreds of key stakeholders from across the nation to understand their priorities and concerns for the workforce.
Titled ‘The Learning Country’ to reflect the Panel’s belief that lifelong learning needs to be normalised in both policy and our culture, the Strategy comprises 11 action points, with proposals that include:
- building a national lifelong learning system
- making the VET system a key partner in Australia’s Innovation Agenda
- investing in digital innovation of teaching and learning
- helping businesses understand how to develop their workforce through on-the-ground experts, and
- supporting existing workers through individualised learner support services – before, during and after training so that success is possible for everyone.
The Strategy will help realise the Government’s vision that Australia become ‘a leading digital economy and society by 2030’ which was announced at last week’s launch of the Digital Economy Strategy for Australia by the Prime Minister.
The Panel views Australia’s VET system as powerful, life-changing and pivotal to optimising what technology offers our economy, the many industries it comprises and our workforce.
“Digital transformation is an era defining opportunity for our economy. It offers us the productivity leap we need but only if we upskill and reskill our workforce, and it’s our training system that’s central to that challenge” said Mark McKenzie, member of the AISC’s Digital Transformation Expert Panel and Chair of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia. “The Government’s Digital Technology Taskforce is working to ensure Australia is a leading digital economy by 2030 – to enable that and to remain a leading digital economy, we need to quickly shift to a system of lifelong learning” added Mr McKenzie.
With the guiding principle of ‘leave no worker behind’, the Strategy emphasises that while digital transformation is synonymous with technology, it is those inherent human skills which cannot be replicated by an algorithm that will help future-proof the workforce.
“For many workers digital transformation means new or evolved digital skills, but equally and some will argue moreso, it’ll demand many workers gain higher level cognitive skills. It’s some of those intrinsically human skills, such as empathy and reasoning, which ironically haven’t always been valued that are only going to become more and more important” said Paul Walsh, CEO of Australian Industry Standards, the organisation that has supported the Panel from its establishment in late 2019.
‘The Learning Country’ is available on the Digital Transformation Expert Panel’s website here.
*Technology Impacts on the Australian Workforce (2020) Australian Computer Society and Faethm