DSO Calls For Digital Skills Overhaul

♦ DSO calls for digital skills overhaul, highlighting that out of 86,000 apprenticeships in 2019, only 600 were in ICT – a shortfall certain to impact on electronic security integration.

Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) chief executive officer Patrick Kidd said that Australia has an annual requirement of 60,000 new digital workers over the next 5 years. But he said the country was falling short, given of the roughly 86,000 apprentices undertaken annually, only 600 are in the ICT sector.

Titled ‘Towards a new model for the development of digital skills’, the DSO paper presents a new model for digital skills training to help bring the training sector up to date. DSO’s proposed skills-based model includes 3 components digital pathways, digital skills standards, and digital centres of excellence.

Kidd said that although many of the training packages in the vocational education training (VET) sector have their merits, they can be too bureaucratised by focusing on training for a specific occupation rather than providing digital skills that are transferable across different jobs and contexts.

“Digital pathways try to simplify the language that describes what the digital environment looks like so that people can then engage with it. When you talk to medium sized or smaller organisations, they struggle to be able to articulate what the skills they need are. It helps produce a codified simple language about what their needs are,” Kidd said.

“What you tend to find happening with the vocational education and training sector (VET) is they have training packages using the language of ICT from 10 years ago, but it doesn’t make sense now. Another important point about the education system is that there isn’t a linkage between schools, universities, and the VET sector, as well as private training providers.”

Kidd believes that beyond developing training capabilities there needs to be more sharing of information and practices between the education system, industry, and the government. He said centres of excellence should bring together experienced registered training organisations for digital skills to help share and scale learning material.

“I’m very impressed by Victoria, they’ve got a concept called the network of TAFE, where the TAFEs are expected to reinforce each other. That’s the type of methodology we really need to be going down if we’re serious about getting after this strategic problem,” Kidd said.

“These RTOs tend to work on their own – we need to have a simplified process that enables industry to engage and collaborate with the training sector.”

“We shouldn’t underestimate the size of the problem, of the 3.7 million businesses in Australia 1.4 million are sole traders. Furthermore, one in 5 small and medium sized enterprises have low to no digital skills,” Kidd said.

“Everyone should think that they have a potential role in the technology industry. Also, you don’t have to come from a STEM background, you can be a designer, an artist, or a program manager. We absolutely have to change the narrative that sits around the tech sector.”

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