A shift in global economic power towards Asia has forced developed countries in particular to re-evaluate their own economic futures. A premium is now placed on the speed of innovation and the ability of countries to transition away from traditional manufacturing of more products, or mining of more resources. The impact of digital technology on business models, supply chains and customer expectations is well publicized, but perhaps the most profound aspect for Vocational Education and Training (VET) institutions relates to changing requirements for skills. In Australia, we know that up to 44% of jobs – 5.1 million – are at risk from digital disruption.

These economic and educational shifts have forced Australia’s education leaders to address the changing skill requirements and adapt their institutions accordingly. To help our customers learn from the successful digitization and curriculum change already taking place in Asia, we founded the Australian TAFE Study Tour.

The 2016 Australian TAFE Study Tour brought 10 TAFE Institute leaders from Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory to Singapore and South Korea to learn more about the impact of digital disruption and emerging trends in vocational education and training.

The group spent two days in Singapore at Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic, one day in Songdo to examine smart city initiatives and South Korea’s approach to start-up incubation and one day in Seoul, South Korea to see the role of education in meeting the needs of the economy.

The overwhelming message TAFEs took away from the Asian immersion was the importance of getting started. Institutes that were visited as part of the tour indicated that they didn’t wait for perfect information, or ideal implementation conditions. One of the most challenging aspects of embracing innovation, institutes reported, was grappling with ambiguity. Australian institutes are under intense pressure (funding, mounting ‘performance pressure’ and rising expectations) and embracing risk and uncertainty can be challenging. However, getting started on Digital Campus projects need not be overly risky, resource-intensive or complex.

Check out this infographic that outlines some of the key insights from the Study Tour, and read the full report here.




Reg Johnson

General Manager, Education

Cisco Australia and New Zealand