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Three things TAFE leaders are thinking about

Australia wouldn’t be the same without TAFE.


One of the primary channels for vocational and technical education ever since its inception in the 1970s, it has been a foundational player in delivering the skills that have helped drive our economy, while changing the lives of countless learners and fulfilling an important social role.


So what are TAFE leaders thinking about the future?


Here’s three things TAFE Directors Australia's former Chief Executive Officer Craig Robertson told ReadyTech CEO Marc Washbourne on the WorkED Podcast should be on the agenda for TAFE and VET as it adapts and evolves to cope with change and the future of work.


It’s important VET embraces digital technology


There is no doubt digitisation and automation is coming. TAFEs and the wider VET sector should make the most of the Covid-19-induced shift toward exploring new technologies to modernise the learning they provide their students, deliver the economic skills we need as a nation for the future, and attract younger teachers who are reluctant to teach using yesterday’s technology.

“It behooves us in public policy to prepare people for the ‘new world’. While it’s difficult to determine what the new world will be like, my view is that we need to look at providing that underpinning theory and approach about how technology applies and then give that opportunity across a large swathe of the workforce to ensure that we have widespread understanding.”


It’s important we become a more flexible sector


The prescriptiveness of training packages and the tick and flick, compliance-centred approach they encourage is unlikely to bring out the best in either education providers or their learners. TAFE and VET more broadly would benefit from enough autonomy over what and how they teach to drive creativity and excellence, while still ensuring the system does not devolve into chaos.

“One thing I would change, for example, is I would allow a lot more flexibility at the local level to design courses that were more suited to local circumstances, without losing the essence of a qualification that is portable across any part of Australia,” Robertson said. “We are about changing people’s lives in the end and you don’t do that with a recipe.”


It’s important we don’t leave people behind


Part of TAFE’s role ever since it was created was to promote social equity and opportunity through offering the widest possible slice of the population access to vocational and technical education. This role needs to continue into the future, so that our economy and social fabric benefits from a broad base of the population having access to skills and the benefits that come with them.


“We are training people up for a whole pile of jobs that are critical to the economy. If we are all brain surgeons we are not much of a country. We need to ensure we are bringing a broad range of people along with us, from the trades, to healthcare to hospitality, right across the board.”