The third Australia-India Education Researcher Forum, themed “Skills and Professional Education,” was conducted on 8th September 2023. Organized by the Australia India Institute, this forum is part of a series aimed at fostering research collaborations and knowledge exchange between Australia and India in the field of education.
The webinar was skillfully moderated by Dr. Madhuri Dubey, Founder-Director of National Skills Network – NSN. The distinguished panel of speakers included Prof. Vineeta Sirohi from the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration(NIEPA), Dr. Joy de Leo OAM from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Dr. Neela Dabir from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and Ms. Judie Kay representing the World Association for Cooperative and Work-Integrated Education.
If you have missed the webinar, then here is the recorded session,
Third Australia-India Education Researcher Forum on “Skills and Professional Education
Challenges and opportunities
The webinar delved into several pressing challenges and opportunities in the field of skills and professional education, with a specific focus on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), graduate employability, industry collaboration, and work-integrated learning. The discussion revolved around the evolving role of skills in education systems, especially in the post-COVID landscape, where skills have gained prominence over traditional academic degrees.
Here is the registration link to future forums: https://aii.unimelb.edu.au/australia-india-education-researcher-forums/
Insights from Speakers
Prof. Vineeta Sirohi on Policy Implementation in India: Prof. Vineeta stressed the significance of effective policy implementation in India’s vocational education landscape. She identified the lack of emphasis on vocational education in Indian society as a major challenge. To address this, she recommended making work-integrated education more appealing and increasing awareness through counseling. Prof. Vineeta also advocated using digital technology to bridge the gap in access to quality skilling, especially in rural areas.
Dr. Neela Dabir on the implementation of vocational Education in India: Dr. Dabir, focusing on implementation, discussed challenges such as diverse departmental mandates, inflexible policies, and standardization issues within sector skill councils. She emphasized the need for flexible training and assessment standards, addressing jurisdictional issues, and providing local internship opportunities. Dr. Dabir acknowledged the progress made by the National Education Policy 2020 but stressed the importance of aligning policies with on-the-ground realities.
Insights on adaptability in vocational education from Dr. Joy de Leo OAM: Dr. Joy highlighted the importance of early identification and swift responses to challenges in vocational education and training. During the pandemic, institutions adapted by shifting to online delivery and rearranging training programs. Policies were adjusted to accommodate virtual practical training. Dr. Joy also emphasized the need for agile curricula development to align with rapidly advancing technologies, requiring close industry engagement for timely updates.
Ms. Judie Kay’s perspective on enhancing graduate employability: Ms. Judie emphasized the importance of seamless graduate-to-work transitions through work-integrated learning. Challenges include resource allocation, securing authentic industry partnerships, and staff capacity management. However, the transformative impact of work-integrated learning on students and the economy presents opportunities. Ms. Judie stressed the need for collaboration to maximize the benefits of work-integrated learning for students and economies.
- Work-integrated learning in India: Prof. Sirohi discussed the development of an institutional framework for work-integrated programs in India in line with the National Education Policy 2020. She emphasized the need for flexibility, quality standards, and equivalence between general and vocational education. Prof. Sirohi highlighted the integration of vocational education in schools and higher education institutions, aiming to prepare a more adaptable workforce.
- Industry-academia collaboration in India: Prof. Dabir shared the success story of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and its Bachelor of Vocation program. Strong industry engagement and practical courses led to remarkable outcomes, improving vocational education’s status in India. The National Education Policy 2020 introduced pathways for students to transition between general and vocational education, emphasizing the importance of policy flexibility.
- TVET systems and policies in Australia: Dr. Joy discussed post-study work rights for international students in Australia and employability for migrants. She mentioned upskilling VET teachers and potential exchanges between training providers in Australia and India as key areas for research collaboration.
- Enhancing graduate employability in Australia: Ms. Judie K discussed challenges in enhancing graduate employability in Australia, focusing on work-integrated education and industry collaboration. She highlighted the use of virtual experiences to improve accessibility and inclusivity in work-integrated learning.
3 Key research areas proposed in the third Australia-India Education Researcher Forum
Prof. Vinita Sirohi:
- Teacher and trainer management: Focusing on enhancing the skills of vocational educators and addressing issues like low pay and career progression.
- Industry engagement in apprenticeships: Exploring ways to involve employers in apprenticeship programs to bridge skill gaps.
- Migration and vocational education: Investigating how vocational training can aid migrants’ employment and integration, covering education’s impact and support strategies.
Dr. Neela Dabir:
- Diverse work-integrated training approaches: Investigating the varied methods used by universities in higher education for work-integrated training, including concurrent placement and internships.
- Comparative TVET policies: Analyzing policies in India and Australia that impact Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in higher education, focusing on degree-level programs.
- Policy impact on TVET: Assessing how policies either support or hinder TVET initiatives, with a focus on higher education, to guide future strategies.
Dr. Joy de Leo OAM:
- Developing a quality VET teaching workforce: Dr. Joy emphasized the importance of research into recruiting and retaining industry professionals as teachers. This includes examining entry qualifications, ongoing professional development, teaching practices, and career pathways.
- Government-to-government research collaboration: Dr. Joy mentioned ongoing discussions between governments regarding broader research collaboration.
- Teaching quality and succession planning: Research focuses on attracting industry professionals to teaching roles, their qualifications, ongoing development, and career progression, making it an intriguing area for potential collaboration.
Ms. Judie Kay:
- Scaling up work-integrated learning through innovation: Research will explore innovative models, including virtual approaches, and assess their scalability and impact on work-integrated learning.
- Quality frameworks for work-integrated learning: There’s an ongoing effort to gather global frameworks for work-integrated learning to ensure high-quality experiences for all stakeholders, providing guidance for effective implementation.
- Professional development for staff: Research aims to enhance the capacity and capability of staff involved in work-integrated learning programs. This involves developing modules and organizing events to build staff skills and confidence in running such programs.
The third Australia-India Education Researcher Forum provided valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities in skills and professional education in both countries. The speakers emphasized the importance of policy implementation, adaptability, and industry-academia collaboration in enhancing vocational education and graduate employability. The proposed research areas offer a roadmap for future collaborations in this dynamic field, fostering knowledge exchange and innovative solutions.