Employability, economic growth and job growth rate can be a manifestation of one of the big issues the Australian workforce is currently facing is skills shortages. Many industries face skill shortages, there even is a demand for qualified professionals in certain places where there is a shortage of people from the caring professions such as nurses, aged care workers, child care workers and doctors among many others. There is a current skills gap that needs to be addressed by skilling, upskilling and reskilling the workforce. Which brings us to the question: How do we deliver a workforce that works better?
The first thing to do is acknowledge the problem. Rapid technological advancement, changes in industry needs, labour market changes, and regional disparities are among the causes of the skills gap. Once the problem is identified and acknowledged, only then is it possible to begin addressing the problem. There are two things that can be focused on and prioritised in addressing this problem:
Educational reform – Quality education in the VET sector plays a vital role in addressing these skill gaps by providing targeted training programs. By training individuals in high-demand occupations, such as healthcare, trades, or information technology, VET institutions contribute to filling skill shortages and promoting workforce development. And by adapting learning programs to relevant and up-to-date training and education, changes and developments in different industries can be anticipated and skills gaps can be resolved. Therefore, investing in training and education and continuous partnerships with industries will most definitely bring change and prevent a more widespread skills shortage.
Another educational reform that can be adopted is by giving importance to STEM education. If rapid technological advancement is the cause of many job redundancies, one of the ways to address this is to prioritise educating people in fields such as engineering, science and technology to prepare students in technology-driven industries.
Skills reform – Employers have to redefine their business models that could stand the changing and growing landscape of the market, industries, and educational reforms. It is also important to find effective methods for upskilling which for most is face-to-face and instructor-led training. Talent development, as such, includes taking into consideration the demands of the market and new capabilities. One of these is digital skilling. If reforms are geared towards digital transformation, it will move the workforce to adapt, become equipped, and go after jobs that necessarily need digital skills and this will significantly reduce skills shortage.
Digital literacy and technology training then should be prioritised to enable the workforce to transition to technology-heavy jobs and avoid job redundancies. Encouraging people to upgrade their skills or retool their skills along with access to digital and technology-based training and education will bring more opportunities for people.
Join us at the 2024 Australian VET (AVET) Conference as Geethani Nair talks about prioritising skills development in the age of technological disruption as a way to address the issue of skills gap in the Australian workforce.
Check out the 2024 AVET Conference website to register.