The Contribution of VET to the tertiary system
There are profound changes expected within job roles across industry sub-sectors as automation replaces routine activities, even within professional services. Typical organisation (even industry) hierarchies, designed to efficiently allocate tasks and resources and monitor efficiency and quality, are also likely to be transformed. Communications technology allows consumers to be more self-directed through on-line platforms and controls normally facilitated through hierarchies are replaced with better analytics and feedback loops to the centre of the organisation (sometimes referred to as dis-intermediation). These phenomena point to a fundamental re-think of the approach in tertiary education, particularly in vocational training which is the focus of this high-level submission.
For Australia’s firms to remain competitive, the tertiary system needs to prepare young Australians for the jobs of tomorrow. Despite the fact that higher level technical skills are expected to be in higher demand, young people are increasingly choosing university; meanwhile, the vocational education and training system is seen as a second choice. In the face of job losses arising from automation and dis-intermediation, the vocational education and training (VET) system must be transformed to ensure all school leavers who choose to pursue a tertiary qualification have the information that allows them to make the best choices possible, and that tertiary qualifications include the broad technical knowledge and employability skills that enable learners to engage in productive work over their working lives.
TAFE Directors Australia argues that:
- Young people, their parents and career advisors need better information to make decisions about education and training;
- The choice between higher education and VET shouldn’t be seen as an ‘either/or’ option; instead tertiary education should be seen as a continuum with permeable pathways between the two; and
- Education and training should place greater emphasis on the technical and
employability skills that learners will need throughout their careers.