Katie Magriplis, a history teacher, epitomizes Australia’s skills and educational challenges.
- Training industry and unions say one solution to address skills shortages is to facilitate access to short courses
- Peak body Universities Australia will ask the Federal Government to fund FEE-HELP loans for university micro-degrees
- Stakeholders are also calling for improved wages and conditions in key sectors such as education
“I really sought to change everything in my life, by changing my job,” she said.
“I was a secondary school teacher for 17 years and the workload is really not at all compatible with the kind of life I want to have.”
She is actively seeking a complete career change.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests she is not alone; in fact, in the year ending February, almost a tenth of employed Australians changed jobs.
The OECD predicts this will continue as technology disrupts workplaces and industries, making upskilling and mid-career retraining critical as jobs transform beneath us.
In 2020, the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation found that there were 200,000 job vacancies due to the skills mismatch in Australia.
Over the next five years, the greatest demand for workers will be in health and social services, professional and technical jobs, education, hospitality and construction, the Skills Commission found last year.
Today, as industry leaders from across Australia gather in Canberra for the National Skills Summit, finding ways to bridge these gaps will be high on the agenda.
And some experts think the solutions could be quite simple.
“I don’t want to end up with thousands of dollars in debt”
Ms Magriplis said she could not afford to pay for another degree, but would be willing to take a short course to leverage her existing literacy skills to start a writing business.
“In terms of short courses, I would be interested in anything that would help me add to the existing skills I have that I could use to help in any business I run or even look into. other types of work,” she said.
“What I don’t want is to end up with thousands of dollars in debt for something that may or may not improve my ability to get a job or get promoted or something like that.
“The way tertiary offerings are structured at the moment, it seems to be very much geared towards the unemployed, or people who want or need college degrees to get a specific job, and there’s not really much between the two.”
Unlikely bedfellows in business, the training sector and unions said a key solution was to facilitate mid-career upskilling.
One way to achieve this is to facilitate access to short courses called “micro-certificates”, both by TAFE and universities.
Classes are short and intensely focused on a particular niche or technical skill – think a short course in computer coding or the basics of starting a business.
They are shorter than traditional certificate and diploma courses and, depending on the institution, cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Currently, students must pay upfront for these short courses.
Peak body Universities Australia believes that funding FEE-HELP loans for university micro-degrees will help solve the problem.
Chief Executive Catriona Jackson is making it a priority request of the Government at its National Jobs and Skills Summit today.
“The days of having a career for life are completely over,” she said.
“A micro-diploma does not replace a fundamental diploma or a fundamental qualification, but it adds things in addition.
“We’re asking the government to consider putting a HECS and an income-contingent loan on top of it so you don’t have to pay now.”
Accord TAFE needs help
An even wider coalition, including the Australian Council of Trade Unions and several business groups, is calling for increased funding for TAFE to deliver similar courses as well as better apprenticeship wages.
In its submission to the Federal Government, the Australian Education Union said that funding cuts to TAFE under the Coalition had significantly reduced its ability to provide adequate services.
The union said TAFE was key to addressing skills shortages.
“The National Skills Commission has consistently recorded extreme shortages in many essential business and technical industries,” the union’s brief said.
“[The Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority] identified a need for 39,000 additional early childhood educators, including 9,000 additional early childhood teachers by 2023.
“The latest 2021 apprenticeship and internship completion data shows that completions have declined to 48.1% of all occupations and 42.0% for business occupations.”
Peak body TAFE Directors Australia wants funding and support for mentoring to increase for at least the first year, to improve apprentice retention rates.
Financing in areas exposed to fossil fuels is essential
Co-director of UniSA’s Workplace Center of Excellence, Associate Professor Sukhbir Sandhu, said funding for upskilling jobs in places moving away from fossil fuel industries was also crucial to meet demand. of the growing clean energy sector.
“We are going to lose around 10,000 jobs in Australia in the coal mines. [by 2035]“, said Dr. Sandhu.
“In jobs such as project and construction managers, office administrators, drivers, it’s an easy transition to renewable energy.
“There are other jobs such as drillers in coal mines, which cannot easily transition and will need upskilling.”
Jobs in the clean energy sector are expected to outpace job losses in domestic coal production, making the demand for recycling even greater, she said.
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