VET can learn from HE on microcredentials


UTS and Uni SA point the way on industry engagement

There are not too many policymakers who would have thought when the national training system was designed in the 1990s that some 30 years later the VET sector would be looking to universities for insights on employer engagement. And, of course, many in VET today will challenge the accuracy of that claim.

And yet, as the sector moves to new organisational arrangements to improve industry engagement it is two new university partnerships that offer insights into what is missing in VET.

Following the Joyce Review, the government is looking to replace the Skills Service Organisations and pilot Skills Organisations with new ‘Industry Clusters’ which will be given a broad set of responsibilities well beyond training package development. Their work will include significant engagement with employers, RTOs and schools – to help learners make better decisions about careers and courses, and help employers access the training their employees need.

It is here where VET can and should learn from the universities.

Uni SA’s new partnership with Accenture has seen them jointly create the Innovation Academy in Digital Business offering a new bachelor degree in digital business along with short PD courses which will be jointly developed to meet the upskilling needs of Accenture’s global clients and its own workforce.

UTS’ partnership with Telstra (Telstra+UTS) sees them jointly designing a suite of microcredentials specifically targeting skills gaps at Telstra. UTS has developed processes whereby Telstra employees can “stack” their microcredentials for credit towards a newly created Master of Professional Practice. These microcredentials have the highest retention and completion rates across all of Telstra’s previous PD activities.

The challenges for VET are two-fold.

Firstly it needs the flexibility to readily co-design microcredentials (with employers) which are smaller than units of competency and which can be recognised for credit. And secondly it will need assistance through the Industry Clusters to take an employer engagement model that works for large institutions and large employers and make it work for thousands of RTOs and 2.3 million SME businesses.

Claire Field is the host of the ‘What now? What next?’ podcast and in the latest episode is joined by Jodi Schmidt, CEO of the Human Services Skills Organisation, to discuss industry engagement and the work of the HSSO.