How future-proof is your training?

There’s a glaring gulf brewing between the type of jobs that will exist 12 years from now and the ability of tertiary educational providers/companies to cater for them. At least that’s the view of Nicolette Barnard head of HR at Siemens Pacific. What concerns Barnard are revelations within a recent Dell Technology report that suggests 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.

Most of these new jobs will be within what’s been dubbed ‘Industry 4.0’, which for the uninitiated is all about how new (digital) technology will ultimately reshape traditional business models, with automation and data exchange playing a bigger role than ever before.

While a lot of governments and forward-thinking companies are actively second-guessing the implications of these technologies on their business models and nature of future jobs, there’s a growing concern that (many) training providers are being left behind.

For companies to better equip their staff with the skills and practical experience they need to be part of the digital future, Barnard argues that schools and universities need to seriously step up to the plate. “It also will mean helping mature workers re-skill themselves so their capabilities remain relevant,” said Barnard.

Fortunately, many companies are in varying degrees transforming their businesses digitally, and Deloitte Access Economics reported last year that businesses in Australia spent $4 billion annually on bootstrapping staff skills. That’s great, but while higher education has historically been OK at ensuring graduates are ‘work-ready’, helping them navigate the continuously evolving workplace, now requires greater participation from academia and industry alike.

As a result, anyone wanting to future-proof their tertiary training as much as possible should be looking for those education providers offering what’s now called a blended learning model. This is where companies and academia collaborate on delivering curriculums designed to equip graduates with the skills they’ll need tomorrow.

Barnard cites the Higher Level Applied Technology Apprenticeship as a best case example. Launched in 2016 by the Australian Industry Group in partnership with Siemens and Swinburne University of Technology, the apprenticeship program is a 48-week joint collaboration between industry experts, academics and students. Collectively they develop projects that apply textbook concepts to live and relevant industry problems.

Barnard expects the program to deliver graduates with the skills required to meet the impact of disruptive technologies and provide them with a competitive edge.

The nine technologies of Industry 4.0

1)    The Internet of things

2)    Cybersecurity

3)    System integration

4)    Simulation

5)    Autonomous robots

6)    Big data and analytics

7)    Augmented reality

8)    Additive manufacturing

9)    The cloud

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