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The Fourth Industrial Revolution: the implications of technological disruption for Australian VET

Skilled workforce Industry 4.0 Vocational education and training Australia
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Much discussion has occurred about the impact that technological disruption will have on the Australian workforce. A recent paper by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), Skilling for tomorrow (Payton 2017), examines the various ways by which the growth in technological advance is reshaping the labour market, workforce and jobs. Despite uncertainty about the scale and nature of the effect, there is a growing consensus that Australia’s tertiary education system needs to change to meet the requirements of a future labour force focused on innovation and creativity. This research examines the relationship between emerging ─ or disruptive ─ technologies and the skills required, with a focus on the anticipated necessary skills from the perspective of both the innovators (technology producers) and industry (technology users). In this research the term ‘disruptive technologies’ refers to large-scale technology/market changes occurring through technological advances such as automation, advanced robotics and virtualisation.

The research finds that disruptive technologies are influencing the demand for both technical and soft skills in many occupations, with some skills in decline and others in higher demand. The impacts of disruptive technologies on firms are likely to differ according to firm size, stage of development, and their capability and capacity to innovate. The effects will also differ depending on the purpose for which the disruptive technologies have been introduced.

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