NCVER has just released two good practice guides looking at how best to teach digital skills in VET programs.

The first is focused on VET educators, the second on incorporating these skills in VET delivery.

In late 2019 NCVER convened a forum to look at digital skills

Those attending this forum included “representatives from skills service organisations, members of the Education Industry Reference Committee, industry, provider and practitioner-related bodies, policy makers and relevant researchers.”

So, what did the forum conclude about incorporating these digital skills in VET programs, and what was the role for VET’s educators? The two ‘good practice guides’ can be found here, along with a support document outlining what works. And there is a podcast too!

Incorporating digital skills in VET programs

Incorporating these skills involves training new entrants to industries, and upgrading the skills of those already there. However, they really need specific units of competency to be created, otherwise they will be seen as generic skills and may be lost through their incorporation in other units of competency.

So, the good practice guide suggests creating specific units of competency, skill sets and short courses for digital skills. They might also form part of necessary ‘foundational skills’, for example as part of the Core Skills Framework. It also notes the important role that employers need to play when designing and delivering programs to develop digital skills.

So, how will the VET system need to change? The guide suggests that this will involve:

“streamlining the competency-development process and reducing the length of time taken to update and approve new training package content [and] revising funding models to allow a greater number of short, or modular, programs to be studied, which will become increasingly important as workers more regularly update their skills.”

Finally, trainers will need greater flexibility and they will also need “a better understanding of how to customise delivery to learners.” Importantly, digital skills development needs to be seen as part of lifelong learning.

Messages for educators

The key messages from the other of the good practice guides are that VET educators have to be able to:

 “use technology effectively in their teaching practice; use technology that is relevant to their industry; and help learners to develop their own digital skills.”

So, they need professional development activities to build their digital capability. This “can take many forms, including self-assessment tools, competency frameworks and short courses.”

However, the key to the successful development and uptake of their digital skills capability is a whole-of-organisation approach on the part of both VET providers and employers.

Take a look at the support document that accompanies these good practice guides, too.

Digital skills in VET? Well, we have been there before!

Incorporating digital skills in VET programs is not a new topic for VDC News, as regular readers will know. Been there, done that, and got the tee shirt! So, previous VDC News items have looked at Digital skills and the future of work, and Developing 21st Century skills through VET. Other articles include: Skilling for the digital economy and finally Swinburne report highlights workforce needs for a digital future.