TAFE looks to prepare students with digital trades qualifications

TAFE will look to deliver training in digital trades to meet the growth of “blue tech” jobs, such as cyber security, data and analytics, augmented and virtual reality, software engineering, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence.

Following from a study tour to Canada and the US, TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) highlighted three themes which will enable TAFE to prepare the Australian workforce for careers in industry, enhanced by digital technology.

The report’s authors note that sub-degree qualifications will be needed by these future employees to navigate these digital trades.

According to a Deloitte report, Australia will need 200,000 technology workers by 2023 to be a world leader in Industry 4.0, however there are less than 5,000 ICT degree graduates each year.

For the rapid upskilling needed in this scenario, the report from TDA noted that with faster completion times, TAFEs are better placed than Universities to provide graduates for emerging industries such as cyber security.

Part of what will be needed to achieve this will be partnerships between TAFEs and industry, such as Cisco and Optus, which TDA is already partnered with. TDA recommends that a Cyber TAFE advisory board be established with industry partners.

In addition, the TDA reported highlighted that TAFE needed greater government funding for applied research to remain relevant to industry. The report noted that although some research is done within TAFEs, this is not spread beyond the walls of the institution. One suggestion that the report’s authors outline is for there to be a formal mechanism for applied research funding from either State or Federal governments. In Canada, the national government there provides $100 million each year for applied research, carried out by TAFE equivalent institutions.