China releases white paper on vocational education and training in Xinjiang

BEIJING, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) — China released a white paper on vocational education and training in Xinjiang Friday.

There are six chapters in the white paper: urgent needs for education and training, law-based education and training, content of education and training, protection of trainees’ basic rights, remarkable results in education and training, and experience in countering extremism.

The white paper, published by the State Council Information Office, said that terrorism and extremism are the common enemies of humanity, and the fight against terrorism and extremism is the shared responsibility of the international community.

It is a fundamental task of any responsible government, acting on basic principles, to remove the malignant tumor of terrorism and extremism that threatens people’s lives and security, to safeguard people’s dignity and value, to protect their rights to life, health and development, and to ensure they enjoy a peaceful and harmonious social environment, according to the white paper.

Over the years, to ensure public safety and wellbeing, the international community has spared no effort and made tremendous sacrifices in preventing and combating terrorism and extremism. Many countries and regions, in light of their own conditions, have developed effective measures and drawn valuable lessons from these efforts.

The white paper stated that Xinjiang is a key battlefield in the fight against terrorism and extremism in China. For some time Xinjiang has been plagued by terrorism and religious extremism, which pose a serious threat to the lives of the people in the region.

Addressing both the symptoms and root causes and integrating preventative measures and a forceful response, Xinjiang has established vocational education and training centers in accordance with the law to prevent the breeding and spread of terrorism and religious extremism, effectively curbing the frequent terrorist incidents and protecting the rights to life, health, and development of the people of all ethnic groups, the white paper said, adding that worthwhile results have been achieved.



College students moving around man at desk in classroom
Going to uni may not be the most lucrative option for everyone.

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A new report by the Grattan Institute shows that some low-ATAR university graduates earn more after graduating TAFE compared to their uni graduate counterparts.

Despite this new finding, the number of students enrolling in universities has more than tripled in the last three decades, while participation in vocational training has remained steady.

Vocational diplomas in construction, engineering and commerce are courses which are most likely to result in a higher lifetime income for students with low ATAR results.

Grattan’s higher education program director Andrew Norton said the popularity of university has led to students overlooking vocational education that could lead to better job prospects.

“A good tertiary education system steers prospective students towards courses that increase their opportunities and minimise their risks,” he said.

“Australia’s post-school system does not always achieve this goal.”

About a quarter of students who start a bachelor degree leave university without a qualification. New graduates are less likely to quickly find a full-time job than they were a decade ago.

Mr Norton said high schools need to give better career advice to inform students of all the options available.

“And governments should end funding biases against vocational education,” he said.

Better financial outcomes for vocational graduates are skewed toward male-dominated courses such as construction and engineering, where few women enroll.

“Engineering occupations are male-dominated, often deny women employment, and are inflexible in providing part-time work,” Mr Norton said.

The outcomes for courses popular with women, such as teaching and nursing, are similar for vocational and university courses.

“For lower-ATAR men, a few vocational education courses would probably increase their employability and income. But for lower-ATAR women, higher education is almost always their best option,” Mr Norton said.

The report follows a new federal government scheme that will tie university funding to the number of graduates who get jobs, ending a two-year freeze on funding.

The performance-based funding scheme will take into account graduate employment outcomes, student success, student experience and participation rates of Indigenous and low-socioeconomic status students.

Education Minister Dan Tehan said the model would provide an incentive for universities to produce job-ready graduates.

“This report shows that while we have a world-class higher education system, it needs to be stronger, more sustainable and fit for purpose,” Mr Tehan said.


Universities and VET should be in ‘the same sentence’: Berejiklian

Premier Gladys Berejiklian will urge her state counterparts to treat vocational training as an equal to university education at tomorrow’s Council of Australian Governments’ meeting.

Ms Berejiklian said she welcomed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s inclusion of vocational education and training (VET) on the agenda for the meeting in Cairns.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says vocational training and university education need to be treated as equals.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says vocational training and university education need to be treated as equals. CREDIT:AAP

But the Premier said it was an outdated view to treat VET and university education as two systems.

“To meet the skills requirements of the future we must look at policies impacting universities and VET holistically,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“I am concerned the usual COAG approach that simply divides up responsibilities between the Commonwealth and the states will detract from us getting better tertiary education outcomes.”

Ms Berejiklian said learning need to be “flexible and transferable”.

“Why shouldn’t it be possible for people to complete their qualifications across a number of different institutions – university and TAFE, on-the-job business experience,” she said.

“Not only do we need to redefine VET, but we need to change the way we think about it.

“We want universities and VET to be thought of in the same sentence for workers looking to prepare themselves for the high value jobs of the future.”

Ms Berejiklian said European countries such as Germany had a strong emphasis on the importance of vocational training, which she intends to investigate on a trade mission to Europe next week.

She will be the first NSW premier to visit the UK for more than 14 years and the first to go to Germany for more than two decades.

“This is how vocational education is thought about in Germany – a key learning I want to bring back with me from my trade mission next week,” Ms Berejiklian said.

The Premier said there need to be a renewed discussion about how the VET system would accommodate jobs that are “not yet created or even conceived”.

Western Sydney University vice-chancellor says universities and TAFEs should work collaboratively.
Western Sydney University vice-chancellor says universities and TAFEs should work collaboratively. CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

The Vice-Chancellor of Western Sydney University Barney Glover said the higher education and vocational training systems in Australia were highly respected around the world.

“It is very important that we don’t degrade one system as another system becomes more robust,” Professor Glover said.

He said Ms Berejiklian’s comments were “timely” as the country faced a skills shortage.

“There is no doubt that TAFE and universities can work collaboratively, whether that is putting the VET into higher education or the higher education into VET,” Professor Glover said.

The chief executive of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott, said vocational training was vital to Australia’s future.

“We need to halt its decline so Australians have the best possible chance of training for work and existing workers can retrain and upskill quickly,” Ms Westacott said.

“We have to address the cultural and financial bias that treats VET like a second class citizen.”

Ms Westacott said Australia also needed to address the effectiveness of the apprenticeship system.

“Given work is under way to build Australia’s largest 24-7 airport, there is an enormous opportunity to rethink how we undertake skills and training in this country,” she said.

During the state election campaign, the government committed to an extra 100,000 free TAFE and VET courses over the next four years and a new $80 million TAFE campus for western Sydney.


UN highlights importance of skills development on World Youth Skills Day

World Bank/Simone D. McCourtie
Students work on an engine at Sisli Vocational High School in Istanbul, Turkey.

At UN Headquarters, and across the globe, events are taking place on Monday to celebrate World Youth Skills Day – marked each year on 15 July – to raise awareness about the importance of youth skills development.

The Day is important because rising youth unemployment is seen as one of the most significant problems facing economies and societies in today’s world, for developed and developing countries alike.

Some 73 million young people are currently unemployed, with 40 million joining the labour market each year. To tackle the problem, at least 475 million new jobs need to be created over the next decade.

Skills for all

However, data suggests that many graduates are ill-prepared for the world of work, and the UN is working to ensure that as many young people as possible have the skillset to prosper in the job market.

Education and training are central part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to end poverty and inequality, whilst preserving the planet. Goal 4 of the Agenda is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

A significant aspect of Goal 4 is the development of technical and vocational education and training. Improving access to these skills is expected to address economic, social and environmental demands, by helping youth and adults develop the skills they need for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.

The UN believes that these skills can give youth the ability to access the world of work, and start their own businesses; and make young people more resilient in the face of a market that demands more flexibility, helping to increase productivity and increase wage levels.

They can also reduce access barriers to the world of work, through work-based learning, and ensuring that skills gained are recognised and certified; and offer skills development opportunities for low-skilled people who are unemployed.


Are we unprepared for the jobs of the future?

A new report reveals the majority of employees across the Asia Pacific region are worried their employers will not support them to meet future job requirements, with seven in ten workers saying they are concerned they’re unprepared for the jobs of the future.

Skillsoft’s Mind the Gap report is based on a Vanson Bourne study of 2,500 employees across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia about their readiness for the future of work.

The report found more than three quarters (77%) of respondents reported they would need to learn a new skill in 2019 to remain confident in their role. Nearly 70% of respondents are concerned about not receiving the learning, development and training they need from their organisation to remain employable and skilled in the future, while one-fifth (21%) are very concerned.

On average, surveyed employees received learning, development and training from their organisation for new skills for their job role three times in 2018. However, 82R% report their organisation could provide more training, learning and upskilling opportunities, while only 14% of those who received training last year rated this as excellent, where nothing could have been improved.

“We are quite shocked by the level of concern and unpreparedness among employees,” states Rosie Cairnes, regional director of APAC, Skillsoft.

“Training, learning and development are critical to technology-enabled workplaces, yet many organisations are failing to deliver enough. This is not just a ”future” problem; it is happening now,” she says.

The study shows digital transformation and employee training is out of step.

Approximately 80% of respondents surveyed say their role is being changed due to digital transformation, with over a quarter (26%) reporting their role is being digitally transformed, and more than half (55%) stating their role is having a slight digital transformation.

However, employee training is not keeping pace. In 2019, 80% of employees across APAC would like their organisation to be more on trend with the training they provide. More than half (54%) of employees would like to receive learning, development and training opportunities online through eLearning courses, while 42% are interested in receiving training via microlearning. Furthermore, 86% of respondents agree the future of work is nothing without training, learning and development.

“Continuous, personalised, on-demand learning that allows individuals to curate their own learning journey in a way that is responsive to the needs of their role, at their own pace, must become standard across all businesses, large and small, in order to manage digital transformation effectively,” Cairnes says.

The report also found organisations are hiring instead of training.

The study showed that 90% of respondents believe when a new role needs to be filled in their organisation, employers look externally instead of internally because they have failed to put in place an appropriate learning and development programme to upskill their people. Forty percent of respondents report that roles are filled with external employees all or most of the time.

“Hiring is far more costly than training, and organisations are already grappling with a skills deficit in the jobs market,” says Cairnes.

“Failing to invest in employee development also has a huge bearing on job satisfaction, morale and retention,” she adds.

“Many organisations are missing out on the positive financial impact and increased performance of upskilling their employees to take on new roles, and are missing an opportunity to reduce attrition by providing a compelling experience for their employees.”


Skills, not job titles, are the new metric for the labour market

The Shanghai city skyline
Shanghai … a training pool for other regions.

The rise of tech is currently transforming the labour market, leading to the automation of some jobs and tasks on the one hand and the emergence of new kinds on the other. Proactively preparing for this new reality requires an in-depth, granular understanding of these changes and their impact on jobs and employment. LinkedIn data is able to provide additional insight on this by taking a skills-based approach to labour-market analysis.

Skills are the new currency on the labour market. Skills indicate demand and supply at a more nuanced level than occupations, whose required expertise and skills are changing increasingly quickly, and degrees, which are often already outdated by the time they are obtained. The current pace of change requires following the direction of a skills-based, rather than degree-based labor market, which is a much more dynamic variable. Using skills as a variable of analysis provides a powerful tool in helping policymakers prepare for the future while building resilience in the present day.

Based on these shifts, LinkedIn has developed the Skills Genome — a new metric, which allows us to harness that analytical power to gain a more granular understanding of labour market trends and developments. Using skills information provided by LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, a digital representation of the global economy based on data generated from 630 million members with more than 35,000 skills globally, the metric allows us to define and analyse the unique skills profile of various segments of the labor market. We can use it to identify those skills that are more prevalent in one segment compared to others. These segments can include a geography (e.g. a city), an industry, a job type (e.g. data scientists), or a population (e.g. women).

In China, for example, we examined the dynamics of digital skills across two of the most economically active and open regions: Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Yangtze River Delta. In a report on digital economy and talent development in the former, we found that China’s Greater Bay Area has an overall net inflow of talent equipped with digital skills, and Shenzhen is a digital talent hub in the Greater Bay Area. We also found that talent in the region mainly majored in finance and technical fields of study, and possesses general-purpose skills such as project management and leadership, with a relatively low level of integration of digital skills. Soft skills like management, leadership and negotiation rank higher in this region, regardless of high-level talents or digital talents.

In a similar report for the Yangtze River Delta Region, we found that Shanghai plays an important role in training and developing junior-level talent with diversified skills to support other regions. We also found that the top 10 fastest growing positions in the past four years are all considered intermediate and senior management positions covering customer service, marketing, finance, products, operations and other functions. Skills that have seen the sharpest increase can be divided into four categories: (1) functional skills such as marketing and customer service; (2) soft-power skills such as leadership; (3) digital skills such as social media; and (4) value-added skills such as English. The categories of skills indicate that the Yangtze River Delta region is increasingly open to the wider world and has become increasingly linked to digital opportunities.


Jobs are changing, and fast. Here’s what the VET sector (and employers) need to do to keep up

Author: Ann-Louise Hordacre

(MENAFN – The Conversation) This essay is part of a series of articles on the future of education.

Technological developments are expected to majorly, and rapidly,disruptor change the nature of employment. The multiplier effect of these disruptions interacting with each other has led to what has been termed thefourth industrial revolution(i4.0).

The first industrial revolution took us from agrarian to industrial economies and the second used resources like electricity and steel to create mass production. The third refers to technology advancing from analog and mechanical devices to the digital technology available today.

The fourth industrial revolution represents ways technology has become embedded in societies by the fusion of technologies, or what is known as cyber-physical systems. For example,3D printingneeds advanced materials with printers linked to the internet, which are increasingly intelligent and autonomous.

The consensus among experts is that our training providers and employers aren’t adapting fast enough to meet the skill needs of the fourth industrial revolution. This is reflected in agrowing technological and digital skills gap . But there are some things the sector can do to catch up.

Read more:
Fewer Australians will have uni or TAFE skills if governments don’t reform tertiary education

Doom or opportunity?Commentators havepolarising viewson the possible effects of the fourth industrial revolution. Some see technologies offering limitless new opportunities while others see major economic disruptions – the so-called dark side of technological change.

The pessimistic perspective is provided in an often cited 2013 study by labour researchersCarl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne , who argue 47% of total employment in developed economies is at risk of automation. This figure also underlies eye-catching headline such as:

In Australia, theProductivity Commissionestimates 40% of employment is at risk of being digitally disrupted by automation over the next 10-15 years. The Australian Industrial Transformation Instituteestimatesthe level of disruption to be between 5-10%.

But an important point often overlooked in these and related studies based on Frey and Osborne’s modelling, is that they investigate the potential for existing jobs to be automated. They don’t take into account the net effect of automation on jobs and that new jobs may be created as a consequence of automation.

More recent reports address this issue and point to a less pessimistic future. The World Economic Forumrecently projectedthat while 75 million jobs will likely be displaced by robots, 133 million new jobs will be created. This means a net gain of more than 50 million jobs globally.

Robots will take some jobs, but more might be created.
This suggests by 2022, some established roles such as data analysts and software developers – as well as so-called emerging roles such as machine learning specialists and robotics engineers, together with existing roles based on distinctively human traits such as customer service workers and people and culture specialists – will rise from 16% of the labour force to 27%.

On the flip side, as algorithms replace workers, declining roles such as accountants and telemarketers, currently representing around one third of the labour force, will fall to one in five workers.

In Australia,Deloitte Access Economicsestimates more than 80% of jobs will be created between now and 2030 for knowledge workers.

Should we be worried?The suggested net employment gains are not a foregone conclusion. There is growing consensus developed economies like Australia must takeurgent stepsto mitigate the negative effects of technological disruption and take advantage of opportunities.

The fourth industrial revolution is predicted to be as, if not more, disruptive than the preceding three, in part as a consequence of thepace of change and magnitude of skill shifts . Australian workers are growing increasingly worried they will bedisplaced by technology because of irrelevant skills .

More than halfexpect they will need skills they currently lack within five years and that they will need to upskill, reskill and retrain.

Skills are a Darwinian, survival issue, not only for workers, but for the organisations that employ them.Two-thirds of employerssay technology-related skills shortages are impacting them now (not in five years) and have noted their biggest challenge is to re-skill employees.

Read more:
What’s the point of education? It’s no longer just about getting a job

Recentresearchshows that while disruptive technology has reduced the need for some jobs, the main issue facing Australian employers is the changing the nature of existing jobs.

This is particularly the case for theexpanded range of tasksworkers are expected to do. Employers seeking external trainingreportdifficulties finding VET providers delivering training in disruptive technologies.

Accordingly, larger firms will likely resort toin-house training , whilesmaller firms with fewer resourceslook to hire skilled workers.

Employers also often view university graduates with technology-related skills as more valuable than employees with VET qualifications. The result isa decline in confidence in the ability of the VET sectorto deliver training that meets the challenges of technological disruption.

What kind of skills will future jobs need?Much of therecent debaterelated to digital disruption has focused on the dichotomy between the importance of hard or technical skills (such as industry 4.0 programming, software engineering and data science) and soft or non-technical skills (such as creativity, design and teamwork).

For example,about halfof Chief Information Officers favour hard skills while the other half prefer soft skills among future employees.

This divide is driven by modelling based on a technology-centred (automation) scenario. But it ignores two other important scenarios, asreported by German researchers , into the fourth industrial revolution: the hybrid and specialisation scenarios.

More than half of Chief Information Officers prefer soft skills in future employees.
Under thehybrid scenario , the distribution of tasks between people and technologies is based on the relative strengths and weaknesses of workers versus machines, and employees will face increased demand to be highly flexible. Control tasks will still need to be performed through technologies that require people for monitoring and directing.

Under the specialisation scenario, people use cyber-physical systems to aid decision-making.Cyber-physical systemsare technologies that enable bringing the virtual and material dimensions together to produce a fully networked domain in which intelligent objects interact with each other.

For example, in new smart production systems, there will be less need for employees with administrative, production and monitoring competencies. But there will be a growing need for qualified andultra-specialisedemployees with IT competencies, in particular those who can integrate them with production—technical competencies.

Applying this tothe Australian context , disruptive technologies are influencing the demand for both hard and soft skills in many occupations, with some skills in decline and others in demand. Industry needs both technical and non-technical skills to’future-proof’Australian workers.

What needs to be done?The VET sector requiresincreased collaborationbetween industry, educators and governments. It also needsresponsivess and flexibility in delivering skills , from formal qualifications to micro-credentials or non-formal education to reflect the needs of rapidly changing technologies.

A good example of this is the firstnationally recognised qualification in automation , launched in Perth earlier this month. This came out of a collaboration led by Rio Tinto, South Metropolitan TAFE and the WA government.

Read more:
The government keeps talking about revamping VET – but is it actually doing it?

Employers should alsotake a lead withexperimenting and testing new methodsto meet future skill needs. A South Australian electronics firm, REDARC, is preparing employees to become ready for the fourth industrial revolution by engaging experts to run dedicated sessions on the application of an overarching i4.0 lens across the core competencies of mechanical, chemical and electronic engineering.

The VET sector can play acomplementary and reinforcing role . Besides catering for current students and apprentices, VET providers need to work with industry to build systems to facilitate continual learning (such as through flexible micro-courses) to ensure theskills of VET graduates or alumni are upgraded responsively .

Federal and state governments need to workto restore the confidenceof employers and students in the VET sector. An important first step is to implement the early recommendations of theJoyce Reviewon VET.

Recent initiativesindicate the VET sector, industry and government have recognised these issues. They will need topick up the paceto ensure vocational education provides students – and businesses that employ them – with the future-ready skills needed to succeed in the fourth industrial revolution.

Read other essays in this serieshere .

    • Jobs
    • Skills
    • Vocational education and training
    • Digital disruption
    • Fourth industrial revolution
    • Disruption
    The future of education

Study shows industry workforce is unprepared for demands of the digital age

New research has found that most employers are unprepared for the digital future of work and risk being left behind.

New research has found that most employers are

The RMIT study examined demand and supply for digital skills in Australia – especially in the sectors of transport and logistics and public safety and correctional services – as well as a broader survey of other industries.

Associate Professor Victor Gekara led the team of researchers from RMIT University’s College of Business in compiling the Skilling the Australian workforce for the digital economy report for the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

Gekara said the nature of Australian industry was changing rapidly as global competitive pressures grew, leading to rapid and extensive workplace transformation.

“Despite this reality, the adoption of digital technology across many of the organisations we studied was gradual and restricted, rather than rapid and comprehensive,” he said. “This is concerning.”

He said this lack of preparedness was usually due to cost considerations, over-reliance on the open market to prepare the workforce or just pure complacency.

The report calls for a comprehensive Australian national digital skills framework, similar to the Australian Core Skills Framework for numeracy and literacy skills, as a sustainable approach to meeting demand.

“This would assist employers to identify digital skills gaps and help training providers to develop targeted training programs,” Gekara said.

The report revealed that many employers lack confidence in the capacity of the VET system, in its current form, to effectively develop the digital skills required for the emerging, highly digitalised economy.

“In the current situation where the majority of digital skills training units are elective, it is very possible for someone to undertake entire qualifications with little, if any, digital skills training,” Gekara said.

Furthermore, the report revealed uncertainty in industry about the extent of government policy intervention to ensure that digital skills in Australia were adequately developed.

The report also called for government and industry to work together more closely with the VET sector to ensure future workplace skills are guaranteed for the Australian economy.

“The only way to have an effective and sustainable system for developing these kinds of skills is when you have employers committed to invest in training efforts and working closely with training providers to identify need, design programs and monitor their application under a strong relevant national policy,” Gekara said.

The research team included RMIT’s Professor Alemayehu Molla, Associate Professor Darryn Snell and Dr Stan Karanasios, in partnership with Ms Amanda Thomas of Australian Industry Standards.


China helps to build skills worldwide

Editor’s note: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. This is part of a series looking at significant developments in various fields as China increases its interaction with the world.

Thai student Kapak Waiyarith slowly lowered the toylike contraption on her palm into the cardboard maze, setting its sensor lights flashing and wheels in motion.

The whirring device – part of an international “micromouse” robotics competition – crashed into a partition of the labyrinth less than three seconds later, after moving just a fraction of the distance covered by Chinese competitors’ similar devices.

“It’s hard to keep up, but learning and improving from the experience is more important,” said Kapak, 24.

The student from Phranakhon Rajabhat University in Bangkok was among those taking part in the competition in North China’s Tianjin municipality last week, when participants raced miniature autonomous robots to map out and complete the maze.

The event at the Tianjin Bohai Vocational Technical College marked a high point in Kapak’s two months of artificial intelligence and robotics training in the city, where she acquired crucial skills to equip her for the global marketplace.

Kapak is among an increasing number of recipients worldwide of skills transfer under China’s Luban Workshop vocational education program.

The workshops are named after Chinese craftsman and inventor Lu Ban of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), who was revered as the embodiment of professional and technical excellence.

Since the launch of the first Luban Workshop overseas center three years ago at Ayutthaya Technical College in Thailand, the program, led by Tianjin municipal authorities under the guidance of the Ministry of Education, has spread to educational institutions in the East and West.

At least eight program workshops have been established in Asia, Africa and Europe, with skills training and certification involving more than 4,000 people in nearly 20 fields, including transportation, mechanics and new energy, according to Tianjin education authorities.

The workshops, whose topics range from electromechanical integration in Cambodia and photovoltaic applications in India to railway operations in East Africa’s Djibouti and culinary courses in Britain, also align with the Belt and Road Initiative’s focus on global cooperation in economic and social development, they said.

The training sessions adopt a practical, innovation-oriented approach to learning.

At an international forum at the Tianjin Vocational Institute on Friday, when attendants took stock of the program’s achievements against the backdrop of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Lyu Jingquan, deputy director of the Tianjin Education Commission, said the training sessions form a “Chinese brand of vocational education” offering the best of the country’s technical expertise.

“One of the main reasons behind the rapid development of the Chinese economy is its vocational education and training,” he said.

“On that basis, we will share our best qualities and results with the countries and our partners for shared progress.”

Jose Pedro Magalhaes Lucas, who is in charge of the Luban Workshop at the Polytechnic Institute of Setubal in Portugal, said, “The benefits of the program have been enormous”. Since late last year, the institute’s workshop students have been trained in areas such as electrical automation, advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence.

“Our teachers have also been given the opportunity to develop more research capabilities and access to equipment, helping to develop our supervision systems for industry. Then there is the interaction between students and teachers fromboth countries, fueling international and cultural experience,” said the engineering professor, who specializes in electronics and automation.

Portuguese student Hugo Frazao, 22, has participated twice in the workshop program in Tianjin, for about a week each time, and also has had opportunities to hone his automation and instrumentation skills through competitions.

“With this program, you can apply what you’ve learned through the laboratories and innovate. You can become very good at what you do. You communicate with each other, make improvements and it’s very good for our skills and the industry.”

Similarly, at Thailand’s Ayutthaya Technical College, those taking part in railway operations training have participated in skills competitions as part of their vocational education.

College Director Jarun Youbrum said Thai authorities “place a lot of emphasis on Luban Workshop cooperation and greatly value it”. Many exchanges have also been conducted under the program, with representatives from other countries observing and learning from the sessions, he said.

“Every year, we have on average more than 100 recipients of Chinese funding support for education, making it one of the largest and most significant educational sources of its kind for us and helping to raise the profile of our college,” Jarun said.

“Moving forward, we would like to focus on our own teaching competencies for our educators to better receive and learn Chinese capabilities,” he said.

“We need to use this China-Thailand cooperation platform to help Thai vocational education move toward internationalization.”

Luban Workshop organizers said the training will continue to cultivate technical talent to power growth in countries participating in Belt and Road infrastructure and development projects, with at least 14 more centers in the works worldwide.

Zoon Ahmed Khan, a Pakistani research fellow at the Belt and Road Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University, said vocational training is a key aspect of infrastructure projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor plan. “Cooperation with Luban is significant. It’s not just timely, it’s very visionary. It’s a very successful model.”


How employers and employees can prepare for the future world of work

Director of Swinburne’s Centre for the New Workforce, Dr Sean Gallagher, says digital disruption is one of the biggest challenges facing workers and employers.

More than half of Australian workers are worried that technology will threaten their jobs, says Director of Swinburne’s Centre for the New Workforce, Dr Sean Gallagher.

In a survey of more than 1,000 working Australians, the complete findings of which will be released later this month, Dr Gallagher found that emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence and automation, were perceived as a bigger threat to job security than an economic downturn.

“It is definitely on the radar of many Australians,” says Dr Gallagher. “And one of the things that is quite clear from the survey is that working Australians feel they are not ready for the changes they expect over the next five years.”

More than half of surveyed workers believe their current skillset will not last five years, as digital technology is already changing or affecting many jobs.

Skills for the future world of work

Uniquely human skills will be the point of difference for workers in the future, says Dr Gallagher.

“People connecting and working with people will drive the value add from workers in the digital economy. Workers should focus on improving social competencies and qualities such as emotional intelligence, empathy, entrepreneurial skills, leadership, risk-taking ability, creativity, ideation, collaboration and resilience.”

“Traditional expertise is still fundamentally important, but instead of it being your main point of difference, it will be a foundation.”

Executive Director of Swinburne Professional, Rob Chetwynd, says training in soft skills and business skills is in high demand.

“It’s these non-traditional skills that are becoming increasingly important to retain and engage staff, and understand what makes them tick to get the most out of them.”

“The workforce of the future is more generalist, so we all need a greater range of skills. It’s about giving people the right skills to do their jobs, not become an expert in a specific field forever.”

It is everyone’s responsibility

Dr Gallagher says that companies and organisations often focus on the technology requirements for the digital economy than on their people.

“Employers need to empower workers to be decision-makers and risk-takers, starting with fostering a culture of curiosity and continuous learning. Workers who are resilient in ambiguous and dynamic environments, and can work across knowledge boundaries, will develop the agency they need to succeed.

“Employers need to create learning workplaces and allow workers to self-direct their learning based on their motivational purpose.”

Dr Gallagher says that workers need the right mindset for the future of work.

“Recognise that it’s your innately human skills that will become increasingly important. Don’t be afraid to take yourself out of your comfort zone and never stop learning.”

The Centre for the New Workforce

The Centre for the New Workforce officially launched in December 2018. The centre is a research and thought leadership initiative designed to support Australian businesses, organisations and their employees by developing new approaches to learning that empower people to thrive in the future of work.

Swinburne Professional

A division of Swinburne, Swinburne Professional is a leading professional education provider, creating a flexible, practical and agile way for professionals to learn.