2019 Australian Education – Digital Transformation and Lifelong Learning

Is education ready for the Future of Work?

It’s customary at this time of year to look back at the year just concluded and set out an agenda for the year ahead. And so we find ourselves asking – what is the future of education in 2019?

Many of the following topics have bubbled beneath the surface at future-focussed presentations at the National VET Conference, in ACPET’s “National Monday Updates” or in industry discussion papers from KPMG, the Mitchell Institute, Deloitte, FYA, Voice of VET and others, but will this be the year they break into the collective consciousness?

Digital Transformation


The world is changing more rapidly than ever. Disruptors like Uber and Airbnb have changed our expectations of not just taxis and accommodation, but of customer experience itself. Customers no longer compare us to our direct competitors, they compare us to Uber. Those nimble enough to adapt to this new reality will gain the loyalty and market share shed by their less agile competitors.

But what does that mean? Digital Transformation is the number 1 issue that’s keeping CEO’s up at night¹. Why? Because customers want outcomes not processes. Customer-centricity focuses on removing barriers between your customer’s needs and their fulfillment. The technologies that enable this brave new world are now reaching early maturity.


Automation is increasingly reducing the administrative and repetitive tasks that exist within every industry, and education is not immune. Whether using the “if this then that” logic within VETtrak’s own “Triggers & Actions,” using technology integrations to reduce double-handling across platforms, or introducing drip marketing campaigns from automated workflows, smart organisations are finding ways to augment their human-customer interface with complementary technologies.

AI / VR / IoT / Big Data

Similarly, expectations of course delivery are evolving. Whereas online learning and classroom learning may have been considered largely discrete, they are converging. In-class students expect support materials to be available outside of the classroom via more modern delivery methods. For instance, Pearson found that Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to prefer learning via YouTube, in-person group activities and learning apps whereas Millennials preferred printed material.²”

The good news is accommodating these multimodal demands is getting easier and cheaper. Forbes notes for example, “Products like Google Expeditions are aiming to make classroom AR more attainable, with a wide range of experiences available via simple phone apps. Indeed, Expeditions already offers some 900 different expeditions, including visits to the Louvre and Mt. Everest.³”

It is important here to note that the technology is not, and should not be an ends in-of-itself, it’s the customer/student experience which is key. AI, machine learning, blockchain, big data – all of these are incredibly powerful technology. But they should not be deployed for their own sake. They should be used in the pursuit of customer intimacy.¹

Personalised Learning

This sense of customer intimacy can be expanded further by this technology. Forbes suggests, “there is a huge opportunity in education today to move away from standardized testing data into less structured data that helps us truly understand our students³.”

MOQ Digital agrees, ““Digital technologies have given teachers a way to monitor student progress in new and individualised ways, allowing them to keep track of how students are progressing and where they are excelling. The result is an opportunity to tailor learning to the student, allowing them to thrive and utilise methods of learning that enhance their success rather than fall behind.

These more tailored educational products are vying for the same dollars previously spent via traditional educational institutions – driving new delivery methods from Higher Ed providers using services like Keypath, Online Education Services or breaking off startups within their organisations like RMIT Online short courses.

Embracing Lifelong Learning


The need for shorter more tailored learning products is gathering momentum. The increasing prominence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution though self-driving cars, Alexa, and Googlebots booking haircuts,  is influencing worker’s views of education.

 Only “12% of study-interested workers think their job will not change in the next 10 years” perhaps influencing the “55% of Australian workers surveyed [that] either have completed study in the last three years, are currently studying or are planning to undertake further study in the next three years.

This learning is increasingly taking the form of non-traditional qualifications such as those offered by General Assembly, Academy XI, Udacity or Coursera.

These education marketplaces may prove crucial. As noted by FYA, “the average 15 year-old will likely have 17 jobs across five different careers in their lifetime, so we need to create a system that both cultivates their lifelong learning, and supports continuous upskilling and reskilling to be able to move across their working life.

Non-accredited learning

Deloitte notes “38% of workers who intend to study in the next three years are planning to pursue a non-AQF study product.

This learning can take many forms – digital marketers might seek a Facebook Blueprint certification, bookkeepers may get a Xero certification, or a manager may seek an “Empowering Others” micro-credential.   

In conjunction these findings make a few things plain – workers are seeking to upskill in anticipation of a change in the demands of their roles, and in-so-doing, they’re prepared to use training options that are non-accredited and/or micro-credentials.

According to the Mandarin, “The challenge for policymakers is to determine how to recognize stackable, micro-credentials that can be built, piece by piece, to create bespoke qualifications that suit the varying need of individuals.

Political/Regulatory Uncertainty

So where to from here? Not so fast:  “the [report] results highlight the increasingly tough agendas that CEOs are facing. They see a mandate for digital transformation, innovation, and changing their business models to better meet increasing customer needs and expectations – that is, to become more nimble and responsive; at the same time, they recognise this needs to be done in a period of potentially increasing regulation, political uncertainty, and with continued cost pressures. It can be seen as a difficult balancing act.¹

The forthcoming national election has thrust education policy into the spotlight once more. The result may well determine which pathways, or what speed, education providers choose to prioritise particularly with a renewed push for free public education through TAFE.

What are your education predictions for 2019?

¹ KPMG. “Keeping us up at night. The big issues facing business leaders in 2019.” https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/au/pdf/2018/issues-facing-australian-leaders-2019-outlook.pdf
² Pearson. “Beyond Millennials: The Next Generation of Learners.” https://www.pearson.com/content/dam/one-dot-com/one-dot-com/global/Files/news/news-annoucements/2018/The-Next-Generation-of-Learners_final.pdf
³ Forbes. “Top 5 Digital Transformation Trends In Education For 2019.”https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2018/11/13/top-5-digital-transformation-trends-in-education-for-2019/#7bf416835d4d
⁴ MOQ Digital. “Education Trends in 2019” https://www.moqdigital.com.au/insights/education-trends-in-2019
⁵ Deloitte. “Higher education for a changing world Ensuring the 100-year life is a better life.” http://images.content.deloitte.com.au/Web/DELOITTEAUSTRALIA/%7B603c988a-0456-49a4-ac54-852e105e1362%7D_gov-alert-higher-education-2018-report.pdf?elq_mid=&elq_cid=86631
⁶ FYA. “Lifelong Learning and Reskilling – The promise of Microcredentials.”https://www.fya.org.au/2018/09/21/lifelong-learning-and-reskilling-the-promise-of-microcredentials/
⁷ The Mandarin. “The future of education: with careers predicted to span 60 years, how will education and training evolve?” https://www.themandarin.com.au/98379-the-future-of-education/