Skill development and delivery of training and assessment has certainly been a hot topic in recent years as we face major changes in the way businesses work. Some of the key challenges include the changing growth industries, globalisation, the influence of technology, the reduction in manufacturing and a shift to service based industries, a mobile labour market, and in Australia, an ageing work force…

Just how will we work in the future and how will we learn the skills we need to adapt and survive? Who will deliver the training we need and how will the VET sector keep up with the change?

First we should consider the skill requirements for the future.

Skills for a Global Future

Early this year we talked about future skills and the predictions of how we will be working over the next 10-15 years. The New Work Smarts paper[1] we referred to back in February suggested that the whole world of work will change over the next 10-15 years – that we will spend more time learning on the job, and more time maintaining relationships, critical thinking and using entrepreneurial skills. A key conclusion of this paper is that by 2030 the ‘new work smarts’ will involve smart thinking, smart doing and smart learning.

Over the past month we have continued our discussion of the changing needs of the workforce to focus in on the skills that will be required. Our social media this month has presented short summaries of some of the skills that will be required for a global future[2]. How are these determined? Researchers are constantly reviewing the changes to the types of businesses operating in Australia and globally, the move from manufacturing to service based industry, the influence that technology has had on the way we work and the changing approach to work of the various generations of people in our current workforce. They identify that the skills we will need for work are changing.

A scan of the types of skills employers are commonly including in their job ads include communication skills, organisational skills, writing, planning, detail orientation, team work, problem solving, time management, research skills and digital literacy. Employers are increasingly expecting their new hires to be equipped with these skills to help address skill gaps in-house. There will also be an increasing demand for workers with transferable skills such as digital literacy, critical thinking and creativity, along with the technical skills required by specific industries.

There is no doubt that many technical skills will still be needed. For example as our current trade based workforce moves towards retirement, there will be a need to fill those gaps through trainee-ships and apprenticeships. However, the focus must be on more than providing training in the technical competencies of a job. It is vital that “soft skills” (including the foundation skills) and a focus on lifelong learning have a central place in our programs. In addition to foundation skills and the ability to work with others, future jobs will require the ability to learn and keep adapting to change to maintain effectiveness in the changing employment environment. This requires skills such as adaptability, perseverance, resilience and experimentation. It is predicted that the capacity to take action, be resourceful and self-reliant will be indispensable in our future workplaces.

The Role of VET

VET providers have an opportunity to meet industry needs by focusing on equipping people with for the changing digital world. In a knowledge based economy and in the context of global competition, workers will need to achieve more with less, they will need to find ways to be resourceful, solve problems and add value with less resources. RTOs can have an impact here by teaching skills such as experimentation, critical thinking, reasoning and creativity.

One of the things that technology can’t replace is our desire to connect with others in meaningful relationships. So our ability to work in teams, socialise and communicate will be important in our future workplaces. Not surprisingly, it is predicted that communication channels used in the workplace will continue to be based on digital platforms. So skills in virtual collaboration, cross cultural competency, media literacy and design become critical for success.

Are you ready?

  • Does your RTO include units that focus on soft skills as well as the technical ones?
  • Are your teaching staff equipped to deliver these soft skills?
  • Do you take the Foundation Skills seriously when you deliver training and assessment or do you find that it is too difficult to incorporate them into what you do?
  • Are you in touch with the industry or community sector you serve?
  • Are you flexible and willing to adapt training to meet the needs of industry and your individual learners?

This is food for thought as the regulators and industry bodies consider the best format for training packages and industry partnerships for the future….

Please let us know your ideas on the topic.

If you need help with  training and assessment design and development please contact us on






Gillian and Karen

PS The wait is almost over, the new book is in the final stages of the publishing process.


[1] THE NEW WORK SMARTS Thriving in the New Work Order, The Foundation for Young Australians, 2017.

[2] Skills for a global future. Anna Payton and Genevieve Knight, 27th National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’, 2018

Next: »

Previous: »

Back to top

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *