VET leaders say technology holds the secret to success
Digital disruption in the VET sector, and across the Australian workforce, is forcing TAFEs, colleges and polytechnics to become more competitive, innovative and consumer oriented. According to industry leaders at the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics 2018 World Congress, technology holds the secret to success.
“The key issue facing the sector is persuading people that the most profitable path they can take is vocational courses, because it provides people with the real world skills they need,” said Stuart Middleton, Special Advisor to the Chief Executive at Manukau Institute of Technology.
“If every country really is competing for skilled workers, it’s technology and the polytechnic sector that will have the answers.”
Keeping up with changing student expectations
The VET sector is facing a number of challenges trying to meet the demands and needs of an industry that’s growing exceptionally fast. Institutions now need to become more agile and flexible to embrace disruption and drive transformational change.
Box Hill Institute & Centre for Adult Education CEO Vivienne King told TechnologyOne: “I think the industry is always experiencing student expectation change. There will always be something new that comes onto market. There might be a new technology, or a different way of learning, and our students want access to the most modern and contemporary way of gaining knowledge.”
With students increasingly expecting to be able to learn and access information from any device, at any time, VET institutions need to evolve. And in an industry where the success of an institution is measured on student feedback, keeping up with student expectations is a necessity.
Put simply, Duncan Anderson, Managing Director at South Regional TAFE said: “Changing student expectations demand that we put them at the forefront of everything that we do.”
The role of technology
Industry leaders discussed how technology can help to push administration out of the way and let the TAFE sector focus on what it needs to do, which is educating the workforce.
Cloud technology or SaaS were unanimously considered to be “the future”, because they offer an “anywhere, any time” approach that enables institutions to scale seamlessly and support multiple global campuses.
“If we’re going to manage the enormous amounts of data we have and store that in an effective way so we can retrieve information, absolutely SaaS is going to be the future,” said Bill Swetman, Managing Director at Central Regional TAFE.
Grant Dreher, Vice-President Vocational Education at Victoria University said his institution was using SaaS to become quicker and more nimble, and to automate and systemise complex tasks.
“I’m not a technology expert, but I do think that cloud is the future because it offers that anywhere, any time type of approach. We run on multiple campuses and in multiple countries, so to have the information available in real time, at any time, is important for us,” he added.
Find a strategic partner, not just a vendor
With technology holding the key to the future, finding the right technology partner is essential.
Box Hill Institute’s CEO Vivienne King said her institution partners with organisations they can trust, while South Metropolitan TAFE’s Brenda Micale said they chose to partner with vendors that understand their business and are solutions focused.
“Technology helps us in all aspects of our business because it first and foremost provides a connectivity to the client,” Micale said.
“Technology has been our past, our present and our future. As it gets smarter and more agile, partnering with a vendor that allows us to take advantage of new technologies will increasingly underpin our success.”