The often opaque path becoming a qualified and certified IT practitioner in Australia could be about to become much clearer simpler under a raft of proposed reforms that would allow courses across secondary, vocational and tertiary sectors to be linked to create qualifications.
The federal government’s much anticipated Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) review has called for greater flexibility in higher and vocational education (VET), a move that could result in more customised and granular qualifications to meet market demand.
Chaired by tertiary education policy professor at Victoria University, Peter Noonan, the review paid particular attention to the potential for greater recognition of micro-credentials - highly targeted short-term courses for students and employers looking to gain skills without committing to a full degree or TAFE certification.
Micro-credentials have become increasingly available through universities, with many used as a means to enhance business leaders’ technology know-how.
However, the review stopped short of calling for micro-credentials to receive their own ranking against other forms of qualification at this stage, suggesting instead that they become recognised for credit towards other qualifications.
Senior secondary students would also be able to study subjects that count towards a university degree or VET qualification under a revised AQF architecture, which would be simplified to give students greater mobility if they decided to move from a TAFE course to a university degree or vice versa.
Federal education minister Dan Tehan review “will help Australia reshape its qualifications architecture to better serve students and meet the demands of the modern economy”.
“Allowing students to earn qualifications across VET and higher education based on their learning requirements better reflects the value that both stream of education provide”.
Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) welcomed the review as a positive contribution to the growth of the nation’s tech sector.
The AIIA said micro-credentials, among other recommendations in the report, are valuable for the rapid development of in-demand technology and digital skills.
“We support the Government’s initiative and this type of innovative thinking to address the digital skills gap,” AIIA chief executive Ron Gauci said in a statement
“Promoting great fluidity and equal value between VET, higher education and schools through microcredentials will encourage students to combine digital skills with business courses and hands-on experience.”
Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said that, while many of the proposed changes apply more to the VET sector than university education, “that goal of greater clarity is a laudable aim across both post-secondary sectors”.