Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Skills, VET and migration

I have to confess to being totally bamboozled by a lot of the debate on national worforce planning.

Skills Australia has published what it calls a "roadmap for vocational education and training", which on analysis sounds like a real plan. On reading it though there is little more than an appeal to the standard neo-classical response of a "voucher system".

Meanwhile the Budget included some good initiatives on recognising workplace gained competencies in VET accreditation. But as I noted in my blog post the brochure for "Building Australia's Future Workforce" had mostly people in hard hats. Very few ICT type jobs there, but there was one chef.

So how do we do workforce planning? I know that Tourism Australia is currently conducting a massive survey using Deloitte Access Economics.

I discovered today that Innovation and Business Skills Australia has published its 2011 Environment Scan. The report notes in part;

Continuing rise of the digital economy

Ongoing developments in digital infrastructure, products and services are providing a platform for continuing development of the digital economy in Australia. As many commentators predict, the digital economy continues to change the business we do and the way we do it.

The industries in which the digital economy is likely to expand most rapidly, through business and service takeup of the capacity offered by the high speed broadband network, are e-health, education services, e-finance and business services, logistics and transport and media and entertainment.

The challenge for both the VET system and business users will be to understand and pitch skills acquisition accurately to meet the needs of businesses, services and individuals. The demand for digital literacy is expected to shadow business engagement with high speed broadband and related user skills development.

and later

Skills shortages have been specifically reported in IT systems architecture, information management strategy development, e-security and in the management of IT services.

Skilling in the telecommunications sector in the short term is substantially dependent on the style and nature of the NBN build and implementation. Immediate skills needs for the ‘roll past’ of the fibre, may be met through heightened government and industry recruitment and training, however the skills to effectively connect, support and integrate business and household functions, using the highspeed broadband capacity, remains a significant issue for the IT and telecommunication sectors.

This raises the really interesting question of who the heck IBSA is. Its membership list includes a large number of unions, professional associations (including ACS) and training provider organisations. It also includes a number of industry associations, including the big AIG and ACCI. But it doesn't directly include any of the ICT associations, AIIA, IIA, AIMIA, CommsAlliance, AMTA or IIA.

It is one of eleven such Industry Skills Councils, which cover disparate groups.

An issue with the ISC approach as distinct from the survey from Tourism Australia is the focus exclusively on the very amorphous concept of VET to the exclusion of the Higher Education component.

What's also missing is the recognition that a consequence of the digital economy is the greater reliance on markets rather than hierarchies for obtaining skills. More people fulfil multiple roles across different sectors - because the technology enables the rapid identification of opportunities and negotiation of terms.

I suspect there is a long way to go to turn the whole VET model around.

Which provides a nice segue to comment on a comment on my budget post. Anonymous wrote

EBN "ill-concieved". Not at all. AARNet is and will continue to be a mile ahead of the NBN - and the poor old VET community will now continue to have network access that is nowhere near as good as their University brothers - and worse even than many high-schools.

I guess we should keep blue collars blue ;-)

This requires a response. Firstly AARNet is primarily a research, not a teaching, network. VET almost by definition doesn't.

Secondly, while the commercial NBN offering that we know and love today is 100Mbps to everywhere, the product roadmap includes 1Gbps for major sites like VET. And this will upgrade.

Thirdly, where the connectivity for VET is important is with their students not with each other. Big pipes to public networks are more important than big pipes in a private network to each other.

Finally, the writer might like to explain all those hard hats in the workforce brochure.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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