If you are preparing people for the workplace, then you have a critical role to build the bridge between the learners’ knowledge and skills, and the workplace skills demand. Learners need your expertise and guidance to make informed decisions about the range of skills graduates they will develop through delivery.
Consistent messages, like this one from the OECD (2013), signal the importance of preparing graduates with a range of skills – workplace specific and more:
“In addition to mastering occupation specific skills, workers in the 21st century must have a stock of information-processing skills, including literacy, numeracy and problem-solving, and ‘generic’ skills such as interpersonal communication, self-management, and the ability to learn, to help weather the uncertainties of a rapidly changing labour market.”
The purpose of this post is to provide current, relevant data with compelling information designed to stimulate discussion, guide decisions and prompt action to ensure your training will be as effective as possible at preparing learners for the demands of modern workplaces. These reports offer similar messages about the predicted disruption to industries, workplaces, and workers, from broad to specific skills strategies and suggestions.
Based on current Australian research and reports, this post offers three focus areas that your learners, and employers need you to ‘tune-in’ to:
- Tune-in to what is expected of workers – the industry and employers’ perspective
- Tune-in to the range of foundation skills workers and learners need
- Tune-into the skills demand of your industry
To facilitate discussion, here are 48 critical thinking questions to use in any context (including training!).
1 Tune-in to what is expected of workers – the industry and employers’ perspective
Australian reports suggest that in coming years, we will observe and experience a range of subtle to significant changes across industry workplaces, and the workforce. Two recent publications reveal compelling rationales and considerations for VET—ways of working, delivery approaches and the foundation skills focus to align with an evolving industry environment. The reports are:
- CSIRO & TAFE Queensland (2016). The VET Era: Equipping Australia’s workforce for the future digital economy
- The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC), (2017) Future skills and training: A practical resource to help identify future skills and training.
“It’s time to bring the VET sector back to the forefront as the key strategy to ensuring Australia’s workforce has the skills required by employers and industry and that individuals have the skills needed to continually adapt and advance in new and unfamiliar circumstances” (p 1)
- Read employer and trainer experiences & issues
- Look at Implications for VET – Future Skills for Learning and Educational delivery (pp. 54-55)
Refer to these reports, and ask:
- how does the training you offer enable learners to be relevant to contemporary and emerging skill needs?
- what scope is there to innovate delivery practices?
2 Tune-in to the range of foundation skills workers and learners need
The skills mix required by industries is evolving. Employers need workers with a broader skills base, particularly in the range of foundation skills.
Yes – the foundation skills used to perform the workplace tasks remain important. An addition, so are the foundation skills that enable workers to contribute to the enterprise objectives. These may be referred to as:
- Essential skills (in the AISC report above)
- Enterprise (Foundations for Young Australian)
- Smart Skills (Foundations for Young Australian.)
These reports reveal the range of skills employers value, and provide clear considerations for a strong foundation skills focus throughout delivery:
- Australian Industry Group (2106) Workforce development needs survey report
- Foundations for Young Australians (2017) The New Work Smarts: Thriving in the New Work Order
Workforce development needs survey report includes employers’ current observations and concerns, eg
“Employers express some dissatisfaction with the skills of VET graduates especially problem solving, initiative and enterprise (14.4 per cent), self -‐management, planning and organisation (13 .6 per cent) and basic numeracy (12.6 per cent).” (p. 4)
Look at the Key Findings (pp. 3-5) and Section 4: Specific Skills issues.
- Smart Learners (p. 14)
- Smart Thinker (p. 15)
- Smart Doers (p.18)
Refer to these reports to:
- initiate discussion about the key foundation skills messages.
- inform the skills focus and adjustment of delivery approaches.
- inspire others to focus on a broad range of foundation skills through training.
3 Tune-in to the skills demand in your industry
Learners and industry employers need you to be on top of the changes to workplace roles and demands in your industry. You represent the industry area the learners are interested in—you are the expert. There is evidence that the skills mix is evolving. So…
“…how do you make sure that you are informed, in touch, and connected to the changing nature of an industry, and its practices, and then the interaction between the practices of that industry, and the skill component?”
The VET Era: Equipping Australia’s workforce for the future digital economy, 2016, p. 37
Accessed from: http://tafeqld.edu.au/resources/pdf/about-us/research-papers/vet-era.pdf
Remember, to be competent means having the range of skills and knowledge to perform particular workplace tasks and duties expected in the workplace.
In the industry you represent:
- what subtle or significant changes to workers roles and workplaces have you noticed?
- how can the underpinning skills be incorporated or strengthened through delivery?