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UNESCO-UNEVOC Trends mapping – Innovation in TVET

UNESCO-UNEVOC presents a new trends mapping study on innovation in TVET


Recently released by UNESCO-UNEVOC, this report aims to improve the understanding on innovation in TVET among the international community, as well as to map current trends and showcase different types and experiences of innovation in TVET around the world.

Written by Jan Peter Ganter de Otero, the report clarifies what innovation means for the TVET community, taking into account the different stages of development they find themselves at and different geographic, socio-economic and political contexts. The study presents a general framework that helps to analyse the development and implementation of innovative practices in TVET, including in organizational practices, ecosystem engagement, teaching and learning processes, and products and services offered by TVET institutions.

Key findings

The study identifies several important issues from the literature review, questionnaires and a virtual conference on innovation in TVET that was held in February 2019:

  • Innovation comprises substantial change in the way TVET is practiced by an institution, making it progressively more relevant to its economic, social and environmental context.
  • The deployment of a broad set of organizational practices in TVET (including planning, financing, human resource management, administrative structure, and internal monitoring and communication) is crucial to support the development of innovation in TVET.
  • It is crucial for TVET institutions to consider a comprehensive human resource management approach to build their capacity to develop and implement innovative practices. All types of TVET institutions (ministries, national bodies, training centres and universities) reported a focus on training and skills development as their main human resource management practice. The study found that there was a lack of human resource management practices concerning recruitment, appraisals and incentives.
  • Innovations in the way TVET institutions reach out and foster relationships with external actors (ecosystem) are not only crucial to overcome barriers when it comes to collaboration between the TVET system and other sectors (including business), but can also be pursued with aims of creating a stronger and supportive sense of community between different stakeholders and enhancing the status of TVET.
  • Innovations in teaching and learning processes help to enhance the quality of TVET programmes, projects and initiatives.
  • Promoting technology diffusion and applied research in TVET can also act as an engine for innovation in local community and the society.
  • The great majority of the TVET institutions reported that the lack of time, resources or staff are significant barriers to develop innovative practices.

The final part of this report provides recommendations divided in three different levels: system, policy, and institutional levels.

Download the report: Trends mapping – Innovation in TVET

Join the online discussion

From 28 October, UNESCO-UNEVOC hosted an online discussion on the TVeT Forum on planning for innovation in TVET. This online discussion will be led by Jan Otero, author of Trends mapping – Innovation in TVET,  and will focus on the process of planning for innovation in TVET institutions, schools and training centres.

To access the online discussion, you will need to have a UNEVOC account.

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From the Desk of the CEO – October 2018 Newsletter Address

It’s been 2 years since the SkillsDMC Board determined to remodel SkillsDMC into Sustainable Skills a not for profit international consultancy that develops, supports and assists effective technical and vocational education and training (TVET) systems worldwide.

During the past two years we have been developing projects and exploring opportunities in several countries. Our focus has been in Indonesia, whilst also exploring opportunities in Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. Our approach has been to work with Governments, take key principles of the Australian VET system, understand the local culture and develop solutions.

Since entering the Indonesian market two years ago we found a country with a strong desire to improve its VET system that has a high degree of alignment with industry demand and a practical design that supports the needs of low-income communities.

President Joko Widodo adopted a strategy in 2016 that placed political priority on a highly ambitious infrastructure program that would establish reliable industrial scale electricity across the archipelago, creating reliable transport networks and promoting a series of large-scale tourism destinations. Skills are a major constraint on Indonesia’s ability to grow the economy and bring people out of poverty.

This creates a huge opportunity for Indonesia to build skills. These jobs require world standard competencies and a training system that will deliver world standard skills, otherwise more foreigners will be required.

Working with the Indonesian Government we are developing TVET capacity building projects to seize this opportunity including a new national TVET Centre of Excellence which will develop Indonesia’s TVET system the Indonesian way, the establishment of an Australian led Indonesian managed training centre and a capacity building project to build the skills needed to establish 35 GW of energy across the archipelago. The Indonesian Government estimates the construction and operating of this system will create 1 million jobs.

This creates a huge opportunity for Indonesia to build skills and bring more people out of poverty.
Australia has an opportunity, in Indonesia, to not only attract foreign students but to also develop offshore opportunities and extend the value of our education capabilities and expertise.

This requires the development of new solutions. Indonesia needs direct help to not only reform the VET system but also to develop the soft skills needed to implement reform.

Opportunities are not straight forward, and no one would advocate a rush of investments in Australian-styled institutions in environments with very different economic and social drivers, not to mention much lower incomes. But the risks can be managed and the scale requirements beyond the initial capacity-building are manageable.

Sustainable Skills has developed several very interesting opportunities that we will continue to explore and develop. Each requires a local focus and strong guidance from experienced Australian specialists. This will take time, but we are confident that strong results will emerge from the application of that Australian expertise.

Watch Sustainable Skills video presentation

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Building tomorrow’s digital skills – UNESCO-UNEVOC Publication

Building tomorrow’s digital skills  – What conclusions can we draw from international comparative indicators?

Recently produced by the Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems in UNESCO’s Education Sector, this report  looks at the conditions impacting the development of digital skills based on five international comparative surveys, the results of which reveal a sample group of twelve countries whose population have particularly high levels of digital skills. This paper is part of the Working Papers on Education Policy series designed to nurture the international debate about a wide range of education policy issues.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),  56% of adults worldwide lack digital skills. The report shows that to achieve the best conditions for the development of digital skills, public authorities must pursue efforts in two areas: policies that create a supportive framework, and sectoral policies for basic and further training.

What are digital skills

According to the authors, the phrase “digital skills” denotes a wide range of skills, some of which relate more to behavior, expertise, know-how and life skills and are complementary and closely interconnected. Since the concept of digital skills is still evolving, those skills must be not only acquired but also constantly adapted and updated.

Digital Literacy include:

  • Photo-visual literacy – Understanding visual representations
  • Reproduction literacy – Creative re-use of information
  • Information literacy – Evaluation of information
  • Branching literacy – Ability to understand hypermedia and non-linear thinking
  • Socio-emotional literacy – Behavior in cyber space

Leading Countries

Based of the analysis of five comparative studies which reveal factors underlying the development of digital skills, the report identifies good practices on the basis of certain countries’ experiences.

Singapore, Czechia, Republic of Korea, Australia, Norway, Hong Kong and Ireland are considered leading countries in digital skills of children, whilst Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg and Finland are leaders in developing digital skills of adults.

Key findings

Among children, four main key points can be drawn from the studies:

  • Early acquaintance of students with technological devices is associated with better digital skills.
  • Equipping schools and homes with technological devices is not enough to foster digital skill. What matters is the use that is made of them.
  • Diversification of online activities is associated with better digital skills. Encouraging children to diversify their online activities can help improve their digital skills.
  • The use of ICT by teachers has a positive effect on pupils’ digital skills, especially when this approach is applied across all subjects, and not restricted to computing classes. Teacher training in ICT is therefore crucial.

With regard to adult skills, digital skills are closely linked to socioeconomic factors, specifically educational attainment. This may indicate that the highest-performing countries in terms of digital skills are those with the least educational inequality. Improved access to further education among adults is crucial to promoting the development of digital skills.

To create the best conditions for the development of digital skills, two types of public policy must be taken into account: policies that create a supportive framework, and sectoral policies for basic and further training.

Non-sectoral policies should focus on three areas to create an enabling environment:

  • Technological infrastructure, through investments aimed at providing quality high-speed Internet access,
    reducing access costs, connecting populations in remote regions, switching from 2G to 3G and 4G, etc.
  • Digitization of businesses, by providing a framework and incentives for businesses to adopt new technologies and update their working practices by integrating digital technologies.
  • The development of online content (locally relevant content, content in local languages, etc.) to create a
    virtuous circle in which enhanced content is both a driver and a consequence of digital skills.

Click here to download the publication .

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From Shanghai to Tangshan: The Vital Role of TVET

Last month, China hosted in Tangshan the “Skills on the move: global trends, local resonances” international conference attended by more than 500 participants from 70 countries. The event, co-organised by UNESCO, the PRC Government and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, analysed the current skills development scenario in the context of the SDG agenda, and highlighted global trends within TVET five years after the Third International Congress in Shanghai (2012) which resulted in the Shanghai Consensus document, a roadmap to enhance Technical and Vocational Education and Training and ensure a sustainable and inclusive development for each country.

Main outcome of the congress is a statement document updating the Shanghai Consensus by reviewing major trends and policy developments in TVET over the past five years.

The new document, “From Shanghai to Tangshan. Shanghai Consensus updated: working together to achieve the Education 2030 agenda”, focuses on four key areas:

  1. Anticipating and assessing skills needs by using labor market intelligence, partnerships and assessment techniques;
  2. Developing skills for all  to ensure inclusive, quality and relevant skills development opportunities;
  3. Making skills and qualifications more transparent and better recognized;
  4. Contributing to a better use of skills in the world of work and supporting entrepreneurship.

The document recognises the critical role  of international cooperation to achieve TVET-related targets included in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and advocates for the promotion of youth employment and entrepreneurship; equity and gender equality; and the transition to green economies and sustainable societies.


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Uganda project update

Last month Sustainable Skills has been officially awarded a consultancy contract sponsored by the World Bank to address skills imbalances and shortages in Uganda. Client of the contract is the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) and this is the first non Australian government contract in the history of Sustainable Skills/SkillsDMC.

The Government of Uganda received credit from the World Bank towards implementation of the Uganda Competitive Fund for employer-led short-term training which is part of the Uganda Skills Development Project (USDP) aimed to address prevailing skills imbalances and shortages in Uganda. An important element of the initiative is to facilitate collaboration between training providers and industry to promote demand driven skills development with special attention to innovative modes of training.

The grant component of USDP aims at:

  • supporting training activities that lead to improved productivity and competitiveness in the formal and informal sectors, hereby creating new income opportunities,
  • providing funding primarily for the improvement of the quality and relevance of existing skills systems,
  • prioritising innovative new approaches to skills development with special attention to micro and small enterprises.

The first stage of the project now officially commenced under the guidance of Peter Merckx as the leader of our TVET experts team. Originally from Belgium, Peter lives in Nairobi and has more than 30 years’ experience working as education expert and consultant, particularly in Kenya and Uganda. He was involved in long and short term assignment to strengthen teacher education and support systems in different African countries, and assisted Ministries of education in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana in building the capacity to develop frameworks for continuous professional development of teachers, trainers and education managers. Peter will be in Uganda next week to work with the Skills Development Facility and a representative from the World Bank.

The rest of the team comprises Lisa Giammarco, as the Senior Consultant, and Simon Nangabo and Mary Jo Kakinda as Associate Consultants. Between 31 July and 8 August, they travelled to Kampala to conduct the first of the site visits, start the activities, and work with the Skills Development Facility team on processes and documentation. The initial feedback has been really positive and the team is looking forward to getting into the routine of the project.


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ILO-WTO book: Investing in Skills for Inclusive Trade

ILO and WTO have recently co-published the book: “Investing in Skills for Inclusive Trade” focused on the linkages between trade and skills and between trade and skills development policies. The publication has been presented on 4 July during a conference at the WTO headquarter in Geneva by Roberto Azevêdo and Guy Ryder, respectively WTO and ILO Director-General.

According to the study, national skills development systems able to match skills supply to demand are crucial to improve each country’s competitive position in the current global economy scenario and to support inclusive development. Enhancing the skills of a country’s workforce lifts the export performance of its enterprises and better prepares them to meet foreign competition in the domestic market.

The authors outline that addressing the need for developing a more competitive workforce is a long-term process. Continuing education and training at universities, in TVET, and on-the-job training can help workers and managers cope with the big changes in demand for skills which are in varying degrees triggered by globalization. In support to these arguments, the book shows evidence of a range of policy approaches which have helped countries in responding effectively to these challenges.

Major concepts expressed in the book by WTO and ILO economists include:

  • Skills development is key to more inclusive trade
  • The level and composition of skills in a country affect its participation in trade
  • Trade affects the demand for skills in several ways
  • Trade affects the wage distribution by increasing the returns to skills
  • An appropriate skills supply increases gains from trade and improves their distribution
  • Available responses

As a key stakeholder in the Australian TVET sector and as a consultant to the TVET authorities of a number of African and Asian countries, Sustainable Skills has extensive experience supporting Governments and Industry to build effective TVET systems able to match skills supply to demand and to ensure each country’s inclusive economical and social development.

Click here to read more about the book presentation

Download the Executive summary

Download the full book “Investing in Skills for Inclusive Trade”

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Myanmar National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2021

Myanmar National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2021: enabling greater access, quality and equity in the TVET system

The Ministry of Education of Myanmar has recently launched a new National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) aiming to establish an accessible, equitable and effective national education system over the next five years. The ultimate goal of this plan is to equip local youth and adult students with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century and to enable them to fulfil their career and lifelong learning aspirations.

The NESP roadmap clearly recognises the vital importance of developing an industry-led and competency-based TVET system able to train a skilled and competitive local workforce to support Myanmar’s long-term social and economic growth. In the coming years, Myanmar will need a large number of skilled employees, particularly for the agricultural, energy, manufacturing, infrastructure, livestock, fisheries and tourism sectors.

How Sustainable Skills can help

As a key stakeholder in the Australian TVET sector, and as a consultant to the TVET authorities of a number of African and Asian nations, Sustainable Skills has extensive and niche experience in helping Governments and Industry to reform their TVET system and can assist Myanmar to design a program that will realise its educational goals.

This article summarises a number of ideas about what the reform program could look like while specifying how Sustainable Skills could be involved in the process.

Allocate funding to enable grater access to TVET

Greater access to TVET requires expansion in the number of training places as well as the removal of barriers to enrolling in a training course or having one’s skills recognised.  Increasing the number of training places available is fairly simple, but can be done only after building the capacity of the system through substantial investment in facilities and skills of TVET educators. There are a number of models for how to manage this process, and Sustainable Skills can assist the Government of Myanmar in formulating an appropriate model and in designing a program, or in procuring the right implementation partner for a funding program.

Ensuring greater quality and alignment to labour market requirements

The adoption of industry-defined competency standards that can be packaged into skill sets and qualifications can help the Government of Myanmar to achieve its dual goals of graduates equipped with  skill sets required by industries and TVET curricula that meet local needs.

The use of standards allows for curricula to be regionally specific while maintaining consistency across training providers and aligning to the needs of industry. As the Australian Industry Skills Council for the Resources and Infrastructure Industries, these have been the core business for Sustainable Skills (as SkillsDMC) for nearly twenty years and our support can be instrumental to develop and implement these critical TVET components.

A mistake that is often made in determining the qualifications required for TVET trainers is to ignore the importance of industry experience. Questions need to be asked about whether TVET trainers and assessors require university qualifications, or whether competency in the disciplines that they are training is more important. Sustainable Skills can help the Government of Myanmar to find the right balance of education, competency and industry experience for its TVET workforce.

Creating a more effective TVET management system

As an independent and honest third party mediating between the needs of industry and the realities of Government, Sustainable Skills has developed a unique understanding of how TVET systems can be managed. When it comes to the cooperation of Government ministries with the private sector, Sustainable Skills has helped to develop industry representation with Government in Australia, as well as throughout Africa and Asia. A TVET Council model, such as the one aspired to in the NESP, should be industry-led without marginalising the needs of training sector and individuals.

Sustainable Skills has experience doing this both in Australia and in Africa (Mozambique and Zambia) and can assist the Government of Myanmar in conducting the stakeholder analysis, in approaching stakeholders to participate and in forming the structures that the Council will work within.  We’ve also provided advice and support to The Philippines and Vietnam in their efforts to implement a similar system.

Implementing a pilot program

The benefit of a pilot program is that it is contained and can have a specified end date, at which time the TVET Council, the Government and the consultants can evaluate the success of the programs and make changes to those programs before they are implemented more widely across the TVET system.  It will also be worthwhile to evaluate the extent to which capacity within the system has been developed at a Government, employer and training provider level, and determine whether additional capacity building is required or whether the market is ready to function and grow independent of external support.

We take great pride in assisting our partners to make the connection between international best practice and their local needs. Contact us for further information about how Sustainable Skills can deliver positive outcomes in your market or for your organisation.


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From the desk of the CEO-May 2017 newsletter address

Nigel Carpenter, Sustainable Skills CEO

Nigel Carpenter, Sustainable Skills CEO

Welcome to the May edition of our Sustainable Skills newsletter!

On Tuesday 9 May, the Australian government handed down the Federal Budget 2017 which includes important changes for the TVET sector.  A new $1.5 billion Skilling Australians Fund will be established to support apprenticeships and traineeships, with the aim to deliver 300,000 new apprentices and trainees over the next four years. States and territories will need to match federal funding to access the funds, which may result in an overall increase in money for the sector. The Fund prioritises occupations with the highest demand, especially those that currently rely on foreign labour, in industries deemed important to future growth, or have a focus on regional areas.

The establishment of a body officially appointed to implement the program and to ensure that investments are accountable and aligned to the TVET industry demand reflects the fact that the government is following a sensible process in allocating funding. In the past, we have seen how the lack of a targeted approach to vocational education funding often results in a significant waste of resources, either through the channelling of funds into oversupplied occupations or through the allocation of funding into poor quality training.

A clear example of this is the VET FEE-HELP loans program, which despite some positive outcomes have resulted in at least $2.2 billion in bad loans. In recent years, we assisted to another case of controversial effect due to the deregulation of TVET funds shown by a massive increase in the number of private colleges occurred after they could set their own fees. In 2015, many concerns were raised about price discrepancies between similar TVET courses, and the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) launched an investigation which found problems with two-thirds of private training providers audited. Consequently, many RTOs ended up having to be shut down, thus damaging the whole Australian TVET sector.

We aren’t necessarily suggesting that this Australian program will be entirely successful, or that it should be viewed as an exemplar of a funding program, but it is useful to consider the thinking that has underpinned its development. In our work with clients and partners, we strongly advocate for a demand-driven, measurable and targeted approach to funding that enables skill outcomes for those individuals and industries that truly need it. It is also important though that, beyond having the correct amount of funding available, the correct amount of resources are dedicated to ensuring the program is managed effectively – neglect in this regard can lead to the failure of even the best-designed funding programs.

We are glad to announce that, over the course of this month, the transition from SkillsDMC to Sustainable Skills has been officially completed and a new not-for- profit organisation has been legally constituted with the aim to provide TVET consultancy worldwide. These changes have better positioned our business to respond to the unique and often challenging issues that international development work often raises and we are excited to help clients and partners new and old to make the connections that matter and maximise the performance of their TVET systems.

On 17-18 May, to continue investigating new opportunities for the organisation, Ben Rawlings, our International Development Services Director, attended Latin America Downunder in Perth to explore the feasibility of expanding Sustainable Skills’ activities into Latin America. The conference and exhibition follow the format of its highly successful African counterpart, providing the opportunity for governments, companies, and other stakeholders of the mining industry to network and share their stories and experiences. The event presented the occasion to meet with representatives from Chile, Paraguay, Mexico, Guyana, Argentina, and Peru. The meetings raised several encouraging ideas that we will continue to explore.

Over the last couple of weeks, Sustainable Skills Chair of the board, Michael Gill, and I have nurtured recently created partnerships in Indonesia and Myanmar and we are confident that they will soon result in important business opportunities for the newborn Sustainable Skills organisation. I attended a meeting in Jakarta with the Human Resources and Capacity Building Strategy team at KPPIP, the Indonesian Committee for Acceleration of Priority Infrastructure Delivery established by the President to facilitate coordination in debottlenecking efforts for National Strategic and Priority Projects. We had a very long meeting which included a visit to Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) University. PLN is an Indonesian state-owned company tasked with supplying the electricity needs of the Indonesian people. During the next few years, Indonesia will need to train over 900,000 skilled Indonesians to construct a number of new power plants. We are working with KPPIP and PLN to develop a plan to ensure local people are skilled.

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Guide to anticipating and matching skills and jobs

Guide to anticipating and matching skills and jobs

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), the UN agency specialised in promoting rights at work, encouraging decent employment opportunities, enhancing social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues, has recently released a new volume of the series “Guides to anticipating and matching skills and jobs”.  The volume forms part of a compendium of methodological guides on anticipation and matching of skills supply and demand developed by the combined expertise of the European Training Foundation (ETF), the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) and the International Labour Office. This project aims to supply proper methodological tools particularly to developing countries, whose access to labour market information is often quite limited.

In a context of dynamic and complex labour markets, gathering intelligence on current and future skill needs can support better matching of training and jobs, which is of paramount importance for every country in the world. Skills matching can also help reduce unemployment, particularly among young people, build a better life for individuals by improving employability, social mobility and inclusion.

Accurate information and analyses are keys to effective education and employment strategies and to productive investments. Instead, the lack of intelligence can often result in the creation of structural problems in the labour market, problems for individuals in finding work, and problems for employers in finding appropriately skilled workers.

As the Australian Industry Skills Council for the Resources and Infrastructure Industries (RII), between 2003 and 2016, Sustainable Skills (formerly SkillsDMC) played a pivotal role to ensure that vocational education and training outcomes match the actual job market requirements. Sustainable Skills activity was focused on connecting industry, government, and training organisations to shape and maintain an effective TVET systems and frameworks through the development of the RII Training Package, which specifies the skills and knowledge required for workers to perform safely and effectively in the civil infrastructure, coal mining, construction materials (quarrying), drilling and metalliferous mining industry sectors.

In this role, Sustainable Skills activity  consisted of:

  • building Industry-led TVET,
  • providing updated and accurate intelligence to underpin the development of TVET systems and policy,
  • establishing industry committees able to identify the right skills needed by the labour market, and
  • setting up effective training programs able to form highly skilled workforces.

A tangible example of the intelligence provided by our organisation to the Australian RII Industry can be found in the  Resources and Infrastructure Industry Workforce Analysis and Forecast developed in 2016 with the aim to provide information and reasoned forecasts regarding the Australian Resources and Infrastructure Industry’s skilling needs, challenges and opportunities. In effect, this report serves as a long-term planning document for the rapidly transitioning Resources and Infrastructure Industry, and to prepare Industry participants for both the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Anticipating and matching skills with jobs is a core part of the solutions that Sustainable Skills offers to every country in the world to ensure that effective TVET systems are implemented across multiple industrial sectors. We applaud the ILO for producing such comprehensive resources but we also recognise that often access to information is only part of the solution. We know from our work that quality information coupled with mentoring, capacity building and support from experienced practitioners is critical to the short-term success of TVET reform, but also to the long-term sustainability of that reform.

Click here for further information about the compedium “Guide to anticipating and matching skills and jobs” release by ILO.

We take great pride in assisting our partners to make the connection between international best practice and their local needs. Contact us for further information about how Sustainable Skills can deliver positive outcomes in your market or for your organisation.



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