Keeping pace in the skills race

Discontentedness between universities and industries was exposed during the 2010 Asia-Pacific Association for International Education Conference and Exhibition at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre held, 14-16 April.

A presentation by Bond University PhD candidate Rebecca Biazos and Education 2 Employment (E2E) managing director Brandon Thompson highlighted universities’ struggle to win the skills race.

Ms Biazos said changes in society had been so rapid that education providers were falling further and further behind.

“We have a huge mismatch in terms of the skills that we need for jobs that require vocational and technical training,” she said.

Ms Biazos said it was challenging for educational providers to connect with industry in a way that benefitted students’ transition to employment.

She explained that although most disciplines within higher education were trying to imbed a work-integrated learning component into their studies, some of the mainstream courses were challenged by their large student numbers in finding industry placements for students.

“Particularly for our international students, finding access to work experience during their time of study is very difficult.”

Mr Thompson said his company, E2E, arose from the need for connection between education providers and industry.

“We collected data from 45,000 students per-year and about 10,000 companies per-year,” he said.

“What education and training providers were making available to industry was at-odds to what industry were actually looking for.

“E2E has two purposes … we prepare students for the transition from education to employment, and build stronger relationships between education and employment providers.”

Ms Biazos said the Federal Government’s intergenerational report had made it “loud-and-clear” that for Australia to continue to attract and build skills, it would need to focus on three areas: productivity, population and participation.

“That’s the key to winning the skills race,” she said.