Data done well can create a better future for VET
Many criticisms levelled at VET rest on the sector being too ‘slow’. Either to adapt to fast-changing employer or employee skills needs, or to do it within the sometimes restrictive confines of the current regulatory regime.
While change for the sake of change doesn’t help anyone, the ability to keep up with – and anticipate and lead – workforce change is a critical success factor for us all as we move through the 2020s.
Part of the answer will be the ability to access, analyse, learn from and act on the insights of data.
Dealing with data on the move
The VET Data Streamlining project is expected to be a great leap forward on this front.
Designed to improve the way data is collected and used via near real-time reporting, it is expected to give more timely information access to students, organisations, regulators and governments.
It will do this by changing the current periodic reporting system for VET into a free-flowing, event-based, system-to-system data exchange via a cloud-based central repository accessed via API.
NCVER, working together with Australian governments, is actively involving Student Management System vendors like ReadyTech in this process. As proponents of the value of integrated technology ecosystems to add collective value for all stakeholders, we’ve been excited to see progress towards an event-driven data system that shares similarities with the Transforming the Collection of Student Information (TCSI) project for VET Student Loans and Higher Education.
Near real-time reporting will help address long-acknowledged issues with timeliness of information flows in VET, which have put limits on our collective ability to shift along with the evolving needs of industry.
Just one example is the Unique Student Identifier (USI) system. Though brilliant in its vision for easy access to holistic student training records, it has long been criticised for month-long delays in updating student competency records due to the infrequent nature of VET reporting.
Real-time is now the real world
Stepping back from the challenges of day-to-day compliance and reporting (AVETMISS, we feel it too!), unlocking real-time data can be seen as the huge step forward it really is. Where we have at times been held back from responding to real-world changes, providers are now able to become much more nimble.
With data at our fingertips, we’ll be able to better understand where our current and future economic and industry needs lie, how our market is (or is not) delivering on them in near real-time, what students are telling us through their actions about their education needs, and much more.
The speed of data becomes even more critical when we consider the ramifications of the ever more obvious shift in industry towards skills sets, micro-credentials and bite-sized training being delivered to life-long learners, who will need to adjust and add to their skills in an evolving workplace.
Developments like these are no longer a consideration for some time in the future. The real world – even if we report on it infrequently – is still happening around us in real time. With JobTrainer, we saw the shift towards shorter-form courses distinctly represented in policy, with funding directed towards skill sets, not only full qualifications.
With more fluid data flow through our industry - whether for the purposes of compliance reporting, or for understanding our strategic direction as an education provider or a tech company – we’ll all be in a better position to respond to changes like those of 2020 and 2021 - and the ones to come.