Vocational education and training (VET) providers are being urged to collaborate with employers to equip workers with skills to deal with increasingly digitised industries.
The recommendation comes from new ‘good practice guides’ released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), which is designed to ensure training providers are delivering relevant content to future workers.
NCVER has previously said that poor communication between employers and the VET sector is behind mismatched expectations on both sides on the appropriate level of digital savvy students should be able to acquire from VET.
Simon Walker, NCVER's managing director, is now calling for ongoing collaboration to establish lifelong training habits in the face of rapid technological change.
“Digital skills have now become essential for almost all occupations and workers in Australia,” Walker said.
“Short courses and micro-credentials that focus on digital skills development could prepare the current workforce to adapt to and manage changing roles at work.
“In the longer term, the sector should look to embed digital skills into VET delivery by recognising them as a key component of foundation skills along with language, literacy and numeracy.”
In turn, VET educators will need to develop their own digital skills to maintain relevance, one of the good practice guides states, “as future VET students may very likely have greater levels of digital skills than the VET educators themselves”.
Walker added that for this to be achieved, the VET providers will need to take a whole-of-organisation approach towards internal capability development.
“It’s important to note that activities for building this digital capability can take many forms, including self-assessment tools, competency frameworks and short courses," he said.
NCVER recommends training providers develop a self-assessment framework to determine baseline levels of capability, and suggests the Digital Capability Framework and questionnaire developed for the agricultural industry as a place to start.
“While the focus in this tool is on developing the Australian agricultural workforce, the capability framework and self-assessment questionnaire are both relevant to the digital skills of VET educators, given that they are focused on digital literacy, digital communication, business transformation, and personal learning and mastery," Walker added.