Claire Field warns: there’s digital dilly-dallying in VET policy advice  

by Claire Field

While Google and Microsoft launch digital courses the “industry-led” VET system is hampered by bureaucracy and confusion

Recently there has been a plethora of “digital skills” activity in the VET and higher education sectors, including:

* the Blue Tech and Digital Skills report from TAFE Directors Australia, Cisco and Optus

* a webinar featuring the new Digital Skills Organisation

* Swinburne U partnering with digital services consultant Arq Group to deliver customised digital training to Arq staff

* RMIT partnering with the Singapore Institute of Management to offer digital courses tailored with industry partners including IBM, Amazon and Salesforce

* the National Skills Commission published profiles of 25 emerging occupations – 13 of which have a digital/tech focus

* the release of Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020 including a $26.5 million Fund for the development of specialist cyber security courses (amongst other initiatives), and

* the prime minister launching a new SkillsBuild partnership between IBM and the Department of Defence, to teach digital skills to 3,000 veterans.

At the same time, the VET sector’s Australian Industry and Skills Committee’s emergency response sub-committee has advised that no new digital/cyber units or qualifications are needed at present. They note that in February 2020 five new qualifications and two new units of competency in these areas were released.

So, in VET on the one hand the key industry advisory body (the AISC) says we have all of the digital/cyber qualifications and units of competency that we need while on the other hand TDA and the NSC indicate we need more, a pilot skills organisation has been established to create more courses and the Commonwealth is already pouring money into creating an unknown number of new courses.

At a time when Google and Microsoft have launched attractive digital course offerings outside the formal tertiary education system, it is deeply worrying that the “industry-led” VET system is so hampered by bureaucracy and confusion.

Meanwhile Swinburne University, RMIT, and other universities use their self-accrediting powers to work nimbly with employers and other partners…

Claire is a consultant to the tertiary education sector. Another key issue the VET sector is grappling with is the shift to regulatory self-assurance. Find out how self-assurance works in New Zealand in the latest episode of the ‘What now? What next?’ podcast.