Think Tank Series – Skills for the future


The latest in the VE Design think tank series brought together a panel of experts in education design to discuss “What skills will VET and industry teachers need to deliver in the future and how can we help to build them?”

The panel included:

  • Colleen Mandaliti –  Educational design consultant at TLC Education Design
  • Steph Clarke –  Learning and development at EY and leadership development at Steph Clarke
  • Stephen Joyce – Senior manager at the Centre of Digital Enterprise at RMIT
  • Sarah Phillips – Managing Director at Pop Education




The overarching themes from this discussion focused on changing how we think about education. This includes: moving from teacher-driven to student-driven learning environments, broadening our definition of learning to include both formal and informal instructional methods, and emphasising collaboration between educational institutions, industries, communities, and government.

Colleen highlighted how digital disruption is impacting education, with big data creating more personalised learning experiences through agile instructional tools on devices that learners already have. As technology continues to change workplace roles, soft skills, such as collaboration, leadership, evidence-based practice and research, and project management are in demand. Teaching these skills requires a more holistic approach that integrates both physical and virtual spaces, learner analytics, embedded technology trends, and a range of digital tools.

Steph recognised that it can be difficult to know what skills we need to develop in today’s ever-evolving work environments. She emphasised the need to learn without being taught. How? Through critical thinking to discern fact from fiction, practising self-assessment to identify areas of professional growth, mentors and networking, and expanding our definition of learning beyond formal instruction. She nicely summed up her thoughts by recommending we change the traditional 3R’s of reading, writing, and arithmetic, to a new set of 3R’s, reading, reflecting, and relaying what we know to others.

Stephen spoke about how we have entered Industry 4.0, the age of interconnected systems. Timing is critical in this age and determining what skills to teach and when to teach them is key. For emergent technologies, teaching skills too early before a technology is widely adopted or too late after market saturation, can make these skills irrelevant. This is where SMAC(t) comes into play, bringing together the social (networking and collaboration), mobile (studying on the fly and in time), analytics (driving material relevance and student engagement), and collected in cloud and things (interconnected interfaces and streamlined platforms for greater personalised learning).

Sarah focused on building skills in assessment, especially in the areas of contextualisation, simulation development, and online assessment. All of these areas consider the needs of the individual learner, the work context in terms of locality and resources, and industry requirements. When building educational products, we need to fully understand the material as well. This includes the competency standards, the contingencies and high risk situations, and knowing when and how learned skills can and need to be demonstrated. Only then can we create effective product that enable learners translate theory into practical applications.

Thank you again to all our expert panellists for a great discussion and to Steph for sharing her self-reflection post about the event.