The Skills Meet-Ups were designed to create an avenue for conversation at the grassroots to policy making level. Stakeholders identified the need to share their practical experiences, seek answers from like-minded colleagues and explore the wicked problems around the skills gap and the future of work with those invested in forging change. The information presented in the Skills Meet-Up Discussion Paper is a distillation of those events with some additional elements to provide context and background information.
Edalex and The Bean Centre recognised the need for a conversation to connect interested parties to share their experiences, hear from policymakers and explore practical avenues to shift the dial around closing the skills gap in Australia.
The thoughts and discussion points from the stakeholders involved in the two Skills Meet-Up events are presented in this discussion paper. We hope that our outputs will contribute to an action plan to create real and measurable change in the way we recognise and validate skills, in the way we train, re-skill and upskill our workforce and in the way we empower all individuals to have equitable access to lifelong and life-wide learning.
Our participants came from a cross-section of organisations involved in advancing the change agenda around skills. From those organisations innovating at a grassroots level with new models of skills data, taxonomies, standards and alignments in the skills ecosystem. They can be grouped into the following stakeholder segments:
- Industry / Employers
Several key challenges are outlined and addressed, including:
- The need for large-scale restructuring across formal education
- The need for immediate action to provide equitable access to education
- The need for industry and education to work together more closely
- The need for funding reform and co-development – the keys to a better skilled, better trained workforce
- The need to address skills shortages and migration system reform
- The need for long-term planning and frameworks to sustain change and growth of the skills ecosystem
- The need for open, linked data to underpin the ecosystem
In the discussion paper, we explore each of the key challenges and provide recommendations for the role that government, industry / employers and education can play in enabling the roadmap for the emerging skills ecosystem in Australia. Learner solution requirements are outlined and detail how learners will benefit from the proposed changes.
By presenting the data, feedback, and challenges in this way, we hope this discussion paper will not only inspire further discussion around the evolving skills ecosystem, but also inspire action.
1. National leadership and coordination is urgently needed
There has been a lack of national leadership, action and coordination to date, which has impeded our shift to a skills ecosystem. Participants felt frustrated by the lack of agreed-upon standards and systems that are used by stakeholders in all sectors, and whose meaning and intent are universally understood. With no shared vision or cohesive national plan in place, individual efforts continue in isolation and opportunities are often lost. The results from these efforts are not collected or amplified, limiting the sharing of best practice that might otherwise be used to better inform decision-making.
2. Setting standards around taxonomies and open data are the highest priority
Universally agreed, and its lack often lamented, was the view that a skills taxonomy must be decided before any large-scale systemic change can begin. Without a shared language and definition of skills, whose meaning and intent is understood by all stakeholders, there are countless opportunities for miscommunication, misunderstanding and much potential lost. Open data standards that support interoperability and data mobility will remove barriers to enabling technologies and support learner agency.
3. New government policies and funding models will have big impacts
Government funding models have not kept pace with market demands and in many cases are blockers to innovation and progress. Skilled migration reform is another area that presents a range of challenges and opportunities. A cohesive, ongoing coordination effort will be required to organise, drive and govern the skills ecosystem implementation and evolution, a natural fit for the government to own.
4. Greater communication, collaboration and co-design are key to success
Bringing people together from across sectors and from grassroots practitioners through to policymakers has demonstrated for us how important open discussions are. Once in the same room, the topics of conversation and the depths explored in discussion progressed in quality of outcome very quickly. Collaboration and co-design were identified by the group repeatedly, and in answer to many of the challenges we face. Establishing and leveraging existing forums / communities of practice would go a long way to increasing our pace of change.
Professor Martin Bean CBE – Founder and CEO, The Bean Centre
Martin is the Founder and CEO of The Bean Centre, an organisation founded with a single mission: To partner with visionary education experts, breakthrough technology companies and future-thinking education providers to create a future that works. Previously, Martin was Vice-Chancellor and President of RMIT University, an institution with over 80,000 students based in Melbourne, Australia, with campuses in Vietnam and formal University partnerships in Singapore and China. He previously held the positions of Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, the UK’s largest academic institution and leader in the provision of flexible learning, and General Manager of Microsoft’s Education Products Group in Seattle, Washington.
Dan McFadyen – Managing Director, Edalex
Across the past 20 years, 3 passions have driven Dan: shaping collaborative teams, evolving services businesses, and enabling innovation in education. These passions fuelled varied roles from a start-up developing the CODiE award-winning EQUELLA software to global educational powerhouses Blackboard and Pearson; from small teams to leading a team of 65 delivering an annual product and service portfolio of $55 million.
Renzo Scacco – Managing Director, NXT Venture Collective
Renzo is an experienced senior executive with a track record of establishing and growing businesses locally and internationally across a range of sectors. His background covers practice management and General Management roles in Tier 1 consulting firms across strategy, operational performance improvement, and branding as well as industry roles managing business lines in Australia, Asia, and Europe across the FMCG, Healthcare, and Education sectors.
Margo Griffith – Head of Business Development, Edalex
Margo’s in-depth knowledge and experience of micro-credentialing is the result of working in and with higher education providers and, edtech leaders, nationally and internationally. She is passionate about the positive impact of technology within education and the enablement of lifelong learning and agility. Margo is a connector at heart and is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in all areas of life.
Kristine Chompff – Marketing Manager, Edalex
Kristine has worked in competitive, dynamic and high-growth environments for over 20 years, primarily in professional development and higher education. She has an in-depth understanding of education technology, having spent much of her time working with leading international edtech organisations in product development and in bringing cutting-edge platforms to market. She is an avid lifelong learner and believes in the power of technology to improve learners’ personal and professional lives.