Ai Group is modelling its recent calls to integrate trades skills into higher level qualifications by managing a pilot program that shakes up the current apprenticeship model.

Flickr cc: UBC Learning Common

Under the pilot with Siemens and Swinburne University, higher-level technical skills in engineering, technology and innovation will enable participants to transition to the new Industry 4.0 economy. Industry 4.0 is about the next stage in manufacturing driven by digitisation and will connect the impact of emerging technologies and digitisation across all industries such as energy, transport and infrastructure.

It is important, however, that the high-level cognitive skills needed for industry are accompanied by advanced social, critical thinking and adaptability skills. While cognitive skills dominated by STEM will undoubtedly be essential in the future, the integration of people skills will be just as important in a new order in which workers will be interacting with each other - and with artificial beings - in real and virtual ways across the globe.

Ai Group's pilot is also significant because it champions learning based in industry. Such work-integrated experiential learning opportunities are growing across Australia, and many other countries, as rapid changes are quickly making institution-based equipment and methods obsolete in education. New recruits need to be trained in the latest industry methods with the most advanced technologies.

Recent reports from the UK are predicting significant increases in the apprenticeship degree program introduced in 2015. A survey report of 66 universities indicates an increase of degree apprenticeships from 640 in 2015-16 to 4,850 in 2017-18.

Ai Group's Industry 4.0 Higher Apprenticeships Project is a practical example of a new apprenticeship program that pre-empts future needs. Australia needs to continue to trial new arrangements such as this and continue to monitor and learn from relevant overseas experience.

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