Research helps sustain Australian workforce

Griffith University education researchers have won a $400,000 grant from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research to identify tertiary education and training models for Australian workers.

The three-year project will look at ways to meet Australian workers’ needs for continuing education and training.

Chief Investigator Professor Stephen Billett from the Faculty of Education says as the country’s international competitiveness hinges on responding to changing workforce demands, the tertiary education and training (TET) system needs to support workers’ competence across longer working lives.

“Consequently, identifying how effectively the current system meets changing workplace requirements and Australian workers’ need for continuing education and proposing possible refinements, changes and alternatives is essential,” he said.

“The project aims to inform workplace and educational policies and practices and assist individual Australians maintain longer productive and satisfying working lives.”

He said the evaluation would identify and validate models of TET that can accommodate changing workplace requirements and worker learning needs including the healthcare and transport and logistics sectors.

“We want to engage with the healthcare sector, likely in the nursing and aged care areas which will be ones of growth for the future and where developing the skills of workers are important.

“Healthcare represents a sector through which people should be able to articulate from vocational education into higher education. This is consistent with the Federal Government’s interest in creating a single-tier education system.”

The researchers will also examine the transport and logistics sector.

Professor Billett says while this is a big industry with significant technological advances in the way equipment is being used and how work is organised, many workers have low levels of education achievement (not often aligned with high-tech work).

“Its workforce tends to be ‘older workers’ who are again not often seen to be aligned with ease in the use of new forms of technology.”

The researchers will examine different industries from other states in the project’s second year.