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From Ready to Reskill

Higher education providers support economic growth

Australian businesses and employees have been grappling with the future of work – and how technology, globalisation, workplace change and other forces will shape which jobs are most in demand. In 2021 all these trends are expected to accelerate as we recover from the COVID-19 recession, and Australia’s universities play a key role in equipping workers to embrace future opportunities.

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) started its life in the heart of Melbourne as the Working Men’s College on 7 June, 1887. Since then it has constantly evolved and grown in response to changing student needs, new education standards and most recently, to meet unfolding future trends.

From a local technical college providing education in the arts, technology and trades to working men and women, the University has become a leader of technology, design and enterprise – offering postgraduate, undergraduate and vocational programs.

It now has stellar city and online campuses which offer a full spectrum of degrees and courses to almost 100,000 students. It also leads the way with thought provoking industry research to influence how education providers, organisations and individuals learn, develop and grow and prepare for future jobs.

As part of its commitment to building a community of lifelong learners who can successfully navigate the world of work, RMIT Online recently commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to conduct specific research which resulted in the ‘Ready, set, upskill: Effective training for the jobs of tomorrow’ report. Findings are helping RMIT to bridge the gap between what skills the economy and organisations need, and how these can be translated into the University’s portfolio of credentialed future skills.

We know asking the hard questions stimulates debate and progress, and research is instrumental to informing what the education sector should – and could – focus on. For example, who is responsible for helping individuals and organisations develop the skills of the future? Should workers and individuals take agency of their personal development? And who is looking at the modalities and inter-sector relationships so Australia’s higher education students benefit from learning the right skills to meet future demands?

“In our Ready, set, upskill’ report we found that Australia will need 156,000 more digital technology workers by 2025, representing one in four jobs created during that period. If Australia can address the digital skills gap it will turbocharge our economy. These insights are informing our online curriculum so we can support Australians.”

Helen Souness, RMIT Online CEO

Amanda Flouch, Human Capital Partner, pinpoints where Deloitte adds value in this mix, “We can see every vantage point, and aim to connect the roles of government, educators and employers so that they collectively support individuals at every stage of their student life. This is about keeping pace with rapid transformation across businesses. And it is incumbent upon education providers to think about the relevance of their curricula and develop courses ahead of the curve, so our economy continues to thrive in challenging conditions.”

The report helped RMIT Online develop a position in the market on lifelong learning – and the role of skilled credentials. Excitingly, our research has told us that Australians want and need to learn – and employers can also play a bigger role in up- or re-skilling their employees by providing training, supporting them to learn through other means, or by providing study leave.

The report’s release comes as many businesses look towards digitisation as a pathway to recover from the impact of the pandemic. Responding to Australia’s digital skills gap is a national imperative, and Australia’s economic recovery will rely heavily on the availability of these skills to power business transformation.

Amanda concludes, “In addition to our contribution to this report, we’re delighted to be an industry partner to RMIT Online and have played a key role in the design of the Graduate Certificate in Workforce Transformation for students. Its four modules reflect input from our Global and Australian experts, made available to suit individual learning preferences. This Certificate is an example of how industry and education providers can partner to design credentialled skills development that will benefit workers and their employers.” 

“As the research shows, we need to ensure Australia’s workforce is equipped to thrive in future. Take digital workers – we need more of them, and with soft skills as well as broader knowledge across cloud, data and AI.”

John O'Mahony, Deloitte Access Economics Partner 

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