Alison Poot, Senior Director, Global Customer Success and APAC at PebblePad, recently hosted an insightful webinar on career readiness, drawing more 260 participants from around the world and featuring a distinguished panel of experts in the field of higher education from across Australia:
- Professor Sally Kift, President of the Australian Learning and Teaching Fellows (ALTF), Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at Victoria University, and Adjunct Professor at JCY, QUT, and La Trobe University.
- Gayle Brent, Senior Fellow at the Higher Education Academy (SFHA) and Learning and Teaching Consultant in Sciences at Griffith University.
- Professor Michael Sankey, Director of Learning Futures and Lead Education Architect at Charles Darwin University.
This webinar marked the beginning of an exciting series focused on preparing students for the future, with forthcoming sessions featuring experts from the United States and the United Kingdom.
Professor Michael Sankey raised a critical question: While we excel at incorporating these strategies in individual lectures, how well are they connected on a broader scale? Michael suggests that there’s room for a collective dialogue across an institution – bringing in all aspects of a course, but widely across the academic community to ensure a more cohesive and coordinated approach.
In addressing this challenge, Michael underscores the need for universities to act as holistic ecosystems.
Michael highlights the instrumental role of ePortfolios in this alignment. Unlike isolated assessments, ePortfolios operate on a programmatic level, providing a comprehensive view of a student’s educational journey. They act as a guiding mechanism, leading students towards a well-defined destination by integrating various elements of their learning experiences. Essentially, ePortfolios serve as a tool that not only assesses individual components but also weaves them together, fostering a more integrated and seamless educational experience. In this way, they contribute to bridging the gap between disparate lectures and creating a more joined-up educational landscape.
Development of a skills passport
The discussion also delved into a national initiative in Australia: the development of a “skills passport” which aims to address the country’s skills shortage. This digital passport is set to provide irrefutable evidence of a worker’s qualifications and abilities.
Sally views the skills passport as a positive stride forward, stating, “It represents a step in the right direction and serves as an impetus for all stakeholders to work together. The acknowledgment of the importance of lifelong learning and upskilling aligns with our goal of preparing graduates for the evolving landscape of the labour market.”
Michael also emphasises the crucial role of engaging with industry. He reminded the audience that we need to ensure that our curriculum is aligned with industry needs. It’s not just about teaching; it’s about teaching the right things – and while the skills passport is a practical step towards this alignment, ensuring that what we teach directly translates into valuable, in-demand skills in the workforce is imperative.
This industry-wide approach signifies a holistic strategy, where government, education institutions, and industry collaborate to not only bridge skill gaps but also promote inclusivity and address societal challenges such as gender inequality and the need for support mechanisms for older workers returning to the workforce.
A hard road ahead
In wrapping up our discussion, everyone agreed: making employability a core part of education is no walk in the park. It’s a huge task that needs a detailed plan weaving through every course and aspect of education. It’s not an easy road, but it’s a crucial one to get students ready for today’s world.
We really enjoyed this lively and informative discussion. This blog covers just some of the topics discussed – to delve deeper into these critical discussions, we invite you to explore the complete recording. It covers essential aspects of shaping education for the future, providing valuable insights into the ongoing efforts to better equip students for their careers.
And of course, all of this needs to be considered against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving tech landscape, where educators are working out how tools like AI affect their ability to boost career readiness.
As Gail puts it, “with AI there are more opportunities than threats, in terms of career development, authentic assessment and programmatic design.” She says, “It’s important we proactively start to use AI in education, as we know today’s students will be using these tools in the workplace and if we don’t encourage them to harness AI in an ethical way, using their critical thinking prowess, we simply won’t be setting up for success!”