This paper, released by the AiG’s Centre for Education and Training in July, presents a “plan to ensure Australia has the skills and capabilities to embrace digital transformation.”

Digital transformation is creating many new jobs and tasks, the paper points out, but these transformations are “also driving increased demand for flexible education and training, able to provide skilling and reskilling opportunities over a lifetime.” Thus, there are ‘opportunities and challenges’ in all of this.

It also means that individuals in the workplace are moving from “functional to transformative” roles and so need “to become … problem solvers, navigators and communicators.” This puts greater emphasis than ever before on a range of competency components that we in VET may not address and teach as well as we should, nor effectively assess and document these capabilities for students and employers alike.

What is changing in Australian businesses?

The pandemic, as we know, has been an incredible catalyst for change in both education and training and in business. For businesses there have been shortages of ‘in demand’ skills, as well as a demand for “entirely new skillsets in a relatively short time,” as well as drives for cost savings and job redesign. This has made businesses focus more on training and development, which needs an “education and training system [that] better reflects today’s business environment and prepares workers with a mindset to continually update their skills to remain productive.”

Where are we now? They ask…

One section of the paper looks at the drivers of digital transformation including, as noted above, not only responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and optimising operations to drive cost savings but also fending off competition and exploring new business models. One section of the paper attempts to address the question ‘How well is Australia doing?’ by asking how well Australia is riding the digital ‘wave’ and is the country on the right track or lagging behind?

So, they ask: Where to from here?

The paper focuses on a number of approaches to ‘take things forward’, including ensuring baseline digital literacy for all and the effective development ‘human’ capabilities and characteristics, including creativity, integrity, leadership, persistence, empathy, and attention to detail. “This means continuing to explore ways to develop general capabilities in school and tertiary education and exploring ways to recognise capabilities in tertiary admission” as well as making work-integrated and work-based learning the norm – which is a particular issue for higher education. AiG’s paper maintains that:

“Work-based learning through cadetships and higher-level apprenticeships should be scaled up across all industries and occupations. There also needs to be adequate incentives for companies to support work-integrated and work-based learning.”

After all, industries and employers need to play their part too! Finally, it means ensuring no one is left behind. This requires “flexible, accessible training products to enable existing and older workers to develop the baseline digital capabilities they need to continue working.” So, “governments at the state and federal level should explore ways to support displaced workers transitioning into entirely new industries and roles,” they suggest.

For education and training, AiG proposes ‘remaking’ the education and training system for lifelong learning. For them, this means having an education and training system:

“that better suits where we’re going, not where we’ve been. This [they believe] means rethinking qualifications, funding and access to ensure we invest in workers’ skills throughout their careers.”

In addition, they believe:

“We need to implement the recommendations of the Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) to ensure it is positioned for the future. We also need to review the extent to which current tertiary education funding models support lifelong learning.”

It might also mean taking a look at developing learner profiles to not only better reflect the formal qualifications and skills people possess, but also their personal attributes and capabilities.

This paper is worth a read and its 48 pages includes a series of case studies of Australian companies to tell the stories of three Australian companies on their own digital transformation ‘journey’.