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Global skills demand is opportunity for Australia’s providers, says KPMG

Australia’s vocational providers are well placed to ramp up offshore activities and help emerging countries fill skills gaps in sectors such as healthcare, transportation and logistics, according to a new report by KPMG.

Australia, skillsThe report highlighted a number of skill demands that can be matched with Australia's training strengths including health services. Photo: TAFE SA.

It also identified significant skills needs in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam

The Global Demand for Skills report, which was commissioned by the Australian government, found significant skills shortages in the tourism, aged care, transport and logistic sectors in many countries; areas of strength for Australian vocational providers.

On a country level, the report identified major opportunities in both India and China, which have large populations, growing middle classes and in the case of India, “ambitious growth goals [for] upskilling multi-millions of workers and improving living conditions”.

The report outlines skills demands across Asia Pacific, Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East. Beyond India and China, it also identified significant skills needs in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

“High-quality education and training is seeing a range of members exploring transnational opportunities in a range of different countries”

“The government commissioned this report to find out where the international deficiencies lie and how we can increase our market share in the international market,” education minister Simon Birmingham said in a statement.

The recently formed International Education Council will act on the report’s findings, he added.

Of the 12 sectors covered – including agriculture, basic manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, hotels and accommodation, child care, aged care, food and beverage, and construction – the report identified transport and logistics, tourism, and health services as priority areas.

Rod Camm, chief executive of private education and training peak body ACPET, told The PIE News that aligning Australia’s strengths with global needs was “a real opportunity from the report”.

“Understanding our strategic advantages and building on them will help Australian providers and their students,” he said, pointing to the country’s highly-regulated quality system as another significant advantage.

“[We are] seeing a range of members exploring transnational opportunities in a range of different countries. Engagement is seen as both the critical first step to establish relationships but also an important element in ensuring delivery meets the needs of customers,” he noted.

The report also urged providers to consider the flexibility of their training to both better meet the needs of each country, which may benefit more from different styles of training, and to take full advantage of “less sector-specific” training opportunities.

“If we also consider skills more generally… a particular style of opportunity for Australian offshore delivery of training is that of ‘enabling’ occupations. This type of training does not necessarily meet a specific, technical industry need, but addresses skill gaps at an institutional level,” the report says.

“At a trainer level whilst the sector is moving rapidly into the digitalisation of skilling, the report reminds us that we need to be mindful of meeting the needs of different regional communities in our delivery,” Sue Freeman, director of retail vocational provider, First Impressions Resources, said.

“The report reminds us that we need to be mindful of meeting the needs of different regional communities”

“The importance of soft skills being delivered in line with local cultural and business norms is one example that all programme developers and trainers need to take on board when working in global markets.”

International education director of TAFE Directors Australia, Jen Bahen, meanwhile, said many public vocational providers were currently “identifying the gaps that staff members have and then delivering skill set training based on Australian high-quality training”.

TAFEs should “increasingly look for additional flexibility as well,” she added.

Bahen also said the report highlighted additional opportunities outside physical offshore campuses.

“There’s significant roles for TAFE to play in a consulting or capacity building functions, as well as individual delivery to industry partners or in partnership with individual institutions offshore,” she told The PIE News.

“I’d say we’ve got a range of roles to play internationally.”

Vocational studies currently represent the second highest proportion of onshore international students in Australia, accounting for 187,801 of 2016 numbers, and helping drive recent growth figures.

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