Cisco, Optus to help TAFEs prep for automation, AI

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Cisco, Optus to help TAFEs prep for automation, AI

Addressing the digital skills shortage.

TAFE Directors Australia, the peak body representing 28 TAFEs and six dual-sector universities, has partnered with Cisco and Optus to bolster vocational educators’ digital skills capabilities.

Instability in the workforce driven by automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning has spurred on the partnership, which seeks to get a handle on jobs being transformed and expectation of new roles within those fields.

The memorandum of understanding between the three follows a recent TDA study tour to North America, sponsored by Cisco and Optus, to understand how US and Canadian industrials are coping with transition into industry 4.0.

It also comes in the wake of a scathing review by the National Centre for Vocational Education (NCVER) which found a severe lack of clear and concise strategies for adopting and teaching digital skills in both the VET sector and the employers who rely on its graduates.

The NCVER report also found that a significant portion of digital training by VET providers was only pitched at a low level, limiting the ability of graduates to further develop or adopt digital skills in the workforce.

This was, however, partly blamed on a large number of employers who had failed to develop any meaningful digitisation strategies to that would let future workers know which skills they would need to find jobs.

TDA chief executive Craig Robertson said the sector will now be using its partnerships to address the issues raised by NCVER, with a focus on continual graduate education.

“We know disruption caused by technology will be so profound that new workers are unlikely to have all the deep technical skills required and graduates will need to have ‘learnt how to learn’, be coachable and have the skills required to work in teams and collaborate,” Robertson said.

Optus’ HR lead, Nicholle Duce, agreed, adding that the partnership with the VET sector will help the telco “align curriculums to meet the digital needs of the economy and ensure enterprises and employees can realise their full potential during an age of unprecedented digital disruption.”

Cisco’s A/NZ head of human resources, James Comer, said that “nothing is more important” for the telecommunications company than building skills for the future as it looks for new talent.

“Cisco is accelerating investment into vocational education with a focus on digital skills and cybersecurity to support the creation of a workforce that is suitably equipped to gain the greatest benefit from digitisation.”

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