Industry, trade unions call for the overhaul of learning in the digital age – Strategy – Training & Development

Australian business, technology and unions have called for an overhaul of Australia’s apprenticeship system to meet the demand for digital skills.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Business Council of Australia (BCA) issued a joint statement noting that apprenticeships and other on-the-job training need to be invigorated, expanded, adapted and supported to meet workforce needs, including digital skills.

They also called for increased wage subsidies for apprentices, an updated approach to digital literacy in the workplace and a lifelong learning strategy that provides better opportunities for retraining and upskilling. .

On digital learning, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott told the ABC on Sunday that “in many ways what we’ve written today is that it’s about job description for Jobs and Skills Australia, we need to kick-start apprenticeships. , not just in the trainee area of ​​the trade area and sparks, but things like digital apprentices.

This follows a call last week from CUTA and the Tech Council of Australia (TCA) for a new ‘Australian digital learning’. This would be a one-year study program and ‘work-integrated learning’ delivered through the VET system. It would focus on “key entry-level technology jobs such as cybersecurity analyst, business analyst, and data analyst.”

CUTA and the TCA want the government to subsidize course costs and provide a wage subsidy to entice employers to enroll. This model would involve industry committing to employing a specific number of apprentices with guaranteed diversity quotas.

The proposed Australian digital learning would be developed by industry and “could be funded by the approximately $40 million in contributions the tech sector is making to training Australians through the Skilling Australians Fund levy”.

Wage subsidies

ACTU, Ai Group, ACCI and BCA want more funding for apprenticeships and internships, with support for the employer and the employee. Support should be provided across all professions, they argued.

They propose to implement the October 2022 budget support to ensure no decline in housing starts and an improvement in completions.

The business and labor group wants increased wage subsidies for entry-level workers, especially the first year, as well as completion incentive payments for employers and apprentices, and mentorship programs for apprentices.

IT providers spoke about the usefulness of wage subsidies at last week’s CRN Pipeline conference on the Gold Coast.

“Because intern salaries in the tech industry are quite high, in the past we often opted to pay extra and get someone with the skills we needed,” said David Norris, chief executive of Nortec IT in Sydney. “With the government grant of 50% for the first year, hiring an intern has become much more profitable.

“It allows us to train someone within the industry, which will add to the technology workforce. Unfortunately, this ended and returned to 10% of the salary paid, ”he explained. “I think it was a very effective campaign and I would welcome her back and take on another couple of interns.” Although he suggested that there was room for better marketing of grants to trainees.

Fundamental digital skills

Another challenge the union and business group have called for more action on is ensuring Australians acquire and maintain basic digital skills at school and throughout their working lives.

“Basic language, literacy, numeracy and numeracy skills must be guaranteed, with funded access for all Australians, including those who have missed out on school or need to catch up later in life. life,” the band said.

They want an update to the National Basic Skills Strategy for Adults to recognize the impact of digital transformation on the workforce, especially on lower-skilled workers in jobs, occupations and industries impacted by digital disruption.

An updated national language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills (LLND) strategy should include “tangible and realistic key performance indicators, to ensure state and federal government accountability to universal standards.”

Greater data collection capacity on LLND to provide more real-time information on the scale of the problem is needed, they argued. The group wants national Foundation Skills initiatives to help companies deliver LLND training that upskills and re-skills their employees.

The union and industry group also called for lifelong learning for all Australians and recognition of the skills they acquire as they upgrade and re-skill throughout their lives. their career. And the need for increased delivery and integration of “short, stackable training options, including micro-certificates.” They want support for shorter credentials, recognition of prior learning and tailored funding mechanisms.

Tech professionals surveyed by the IoT Australia Skills Barometer survey, created with La Trobe University in conjunction with IoT Alliance Australia, prefer short courses.

Survey participants identified safety as the top skill they needed help with. They highlighted the integration of new technologies used in IoT with legacy systems as a major challenge.


Unsurprisingly, immigration is also on the agenda ahead of this week’s jobs summit. The TCA and ACTU want to fast-track the consideration of high-skilled, high-paying migration locations where there is a clear skills shortage – they also want to use this as a way to find coaching expertise.

CRN has heard telling stories about delays in bringing skilled tech workers to the country – and estimates of how long it will take for this situation to resolve vary wildly.

The TCA and ACTU want all tech jobs to have a pathway to permanent migration and commit to and establish clear pathways to permanent residency for all tech jobs.

On migration, BCA’s Jennifer Westacott told ABC on Sunday that “one of the ideas that we brought to the summit was this idea of ​​a trusted trainer, so if you’re a company that can show that you invest in training, that you develop your staff, that you test the labor market, that you should be able to get an easier route to bring in skilled migrants and maybe a lower skills tax because that you can demonstrate that you are investing in the development of your people.

The TCA and ACTU also want “greater access to tech jobs for women, people with disabilities and Indigenous Australians to ensure that all Australians can participate in the well-paying and secure jobs of the future”. .

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