Claire Field on keeping up with creating work-ready grads


As tertiary institutions look at how best to prepare learners for the changing world of work, a few important shifts are becoming apparent

Firstly the Federal Government has announced funding for universities to develop microcredentials – if they are willing to hand over the IP in the courses to government. The government has also announced changes to the FEE-HELP loan scheme to allow, initially university students and subsequently students at other FEE-HELP approved higher education providers, to use the loans to pay for their microcredentials.

Andrew Norton has an excellent piece of analysis as to why this funding support is unlikely to be needed by most learners, as well as other concerns about the government’s proposal.

Meanwhile, the challenge to improve the work readiness of graduates (in higher education and VET) continues, especially in occupations and industries where change due to digital transformation is happening at pace.

At the EduTech Asia conference I attended in Singapore last week many institutions shared how they are responding to the changing world of work. I was particularly interested in Singapore Management University’s approach, whereby IT students do initial study with Google and then later spend six months at KPMG, as part of their undergraduate degree.

I was also impressed by the approach to immersive education being taken by Monash University Malaysia, as outlined by Arkendu Sen.

VET providers are also looking for ways to meet employers’ needs (and in some cases preferences for vendor certified, non-accredited training) as well as also meeting the interests of governments and students. Some institutions are offering multiple pathways into and through IT courses, including vendor-certified training and highly focussed bootcamps (helping existing IT workers update their skills) and diplomas and certificates supplemented by vendor certified training for people who are new to the industry.

It is against this backdrop of change in the sector that I am undertaking my PhD at RMIT University.

This week I will send a survey to senior leaders in universities, TAFEs and independent providers asking how your institution is responding to these changes. The aim is to identify and share good practice back to the sector, as well as to help inform government’s policy, funding, and regulatory decision making. If the survey lands in your email inbox I hope you will find the 10 minutes or so needed to complete it. You can also email me @  [email protected]

Claire Field is a PhD student and the host of the What now? What next? podcast. On the latest episode she speaks to Michael Hui, Managing Director at Arowana, about how they are responding to this changing landscape.


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