Perspectives from Career and Technical Education (CTE) Leaders from the Asia Pacific 

Economic growth is driven by the capacity of economies to continually renew themselves, by drawing together the right skills, talent and technology at the right time. Governments and companies need to be proactive in evaluating where future sources of economic advantage will come from in a global economy with greater flows of capital, people and information.

Where retraining and up-skilling form a necessary part of the transition to high-value sectors – which is the case in most developed economies – Career and Technical Education (CTE) is vital to economic competitiveness. Across Asia, developing CTE capacity and capability is a major priority for the digital economy transition.

While innovation, entrepreneurship and skills are becoming the currency of the global economy, individuals remain at the centre of this broader change. If we continue to equip the disadvantaged and disenfranchised with the skills that allow them to contribute productively to the economy of the future, both the individual and the broader community benefit. CTE forms a major part of this equation; we know that many of the vital skills for future jobs will be taught in CTE Institutes.

These changes are occurring against a backdrop of rising student expectations (particularly in relation to digital technology) and flat or declining government funding. Training institutions are realizing that innovation and digitization are two of the most powerful levers to effect change and improve outcomes. There has never been a more urgent need for digitization that drives efficiencies through better infrastructure utilization, better learning outcomes and more effective collaboration with industry.

Career and Technical Education is changing in fundamental ways – from macro changes to the labor market and work skills, to training market and institution-level changes.


CTE is a major economic and community asset. As such it needs to be accessible to industry, entrepreneurs, not for-profits, students and community organizations. Institutes must be digitally-enabled, if not digital leaders, to create new opportunities for the communities they operate in. This is particularly true in rural and regional areas where the TAFE / Polytechnic can underpin the economic and social fabric of an entire region. A thriving CTE institute plays critical economic and community roles beyond their core function of delivering training.

As an example, industry and the local community benefit from access to high speed connectivity (including Wi-Fi) which is increasingly important for start ups and entrepreneurs who are being lured on campus to bring the next generation of industry closer to students.


There are a range of challenges for training institutions to overcome in capturing opportunities from digital.

The future of publicly-funded training institutions is largely in the hands of their leaders. While these institutions are heavily regulated and have accountabilities to taxpayers, they have significant levers available at the institution level. These include the discretion to make decisions about where to invest (i.e. bricks and mortar vs digital), how to teach (technical vs horizontal skills), how to organize themselves and how to engage with industry. While the decision is not necessarily binary, institutions will need to act and invest digitally if they are to thrive.

Next Steps

During a recent CTE Summit, institutes present recognized that their own transformation needs to occur on a range of fronts. Four major imperatives were discussed to pivot successfully to the digital economy – new models of teaching, experimentation and innovation, industry engagement and upgrading the underlying digital fabric.

To ensure that each institute could meet those imperatives in a way that was scalable and secure, three things were determined as mission critical:

Icons Representing Priorities

Want to learn more about the current state of CTE and the findings of the recent Career and Technical Education Summit? Click the button below to read the full report.


Reg Johnson

General Manager, Education

Cisco Australia and New Zealand