As we venture out of the lockdowns, we are seeing the push towards the digitalization of the workforce more than ever. For many this means that the way we work and learn is changing and new skills are needed.
Vocational training is practical, career-focused learning that is necessary for students to harness 21st century capabilities that cannot be learned from a textbook – or screen, in isolation. The future of learning requires spaces that can facilitate the transition from traditional learning modalities to ever-advancing technological capabilities. It is imperative that our next generations are equipped with new-age skills that meet the needs of current and future industry demands.
There is a need for blended mode learning pathways, which integrate university-like programs combined with the practical skills that vocational training can provide.
Today’s workers and tomorrow’s workers will now need to be prepared for emerging changes with technology, cyberspace, growing automation industries and artificial intelligence – and it’s happening sooner than we can. don’t think so. The National Skills Commission recently revealed that more than 90% of new jobs expected to emerge in the next five years will require post-school qualifications.
As architects, we have a responsibility to appropriately design and deliver functional facilities that solve problems, predict trends and meet the needs of current and future generations.
Years of planning, research and stakeholder-informed strategies have informed Gray Puksand’s approach to design for school districts – mixed-mode centers for integrated learning experiences that suit a range of abilities and skills.
Key learnings over many years have led us to understand that the solution to reskilling our nation must be a collaborative approach, and an approach that prioritizes new era infrastructure that creates livable, sustainable and nimble environments in nature.
With an integrated and planned approach, this new chapter in Australia’s history can be an opportunity to create exemplary learning neighborhoods for the future of learning and working.
Mixed and flexible educational pathways
Equipping our children for practical journeys should happen early in their school career. Educational Zones should be designed to complement and meet the needs of all age levels and their specific programs, in one location with exposure to multiple streams of learning styles.
Our Education Sector Master Plan for the TAFE NSW Meadowbank campus integrates with the adjacent school, primary and secondary environment and integrates tertiary learning environments with vocational training at the forefront. It will be a one-of-a-kind venue in Australia, offering courses informed by leading institutions that are comparable to those offered by universities but with a practical edge.
These programs and their holistic environments are designed to inspire students to learn new skills, visually and collaboratively, in direct response to industry demand for skills. Careful attention to the design of the educational enclosure should also target social interaction, areas of student engagement, centered on biophilic design principles, green spaces, and amenities that promote human connection. Woven into the landscape, infrastructure and design of the building itself, students should feel encouraged to connect with others while being inspired and confident to express ideas, which in turn facilitates healthy attitudes for learning.
The design approach to multidisciplinary teaching quarters must also be location-friendly. Facilitating a thriving school community requires design that is strongly connected to the local community, with the design of school buildings and spaces in between equally important in enabling students to feel connected to their learning experiences and environments. The design of these buildings and spaces should encourage collaboration and spark curiosity. They must also appropriately reflect the values of the wider community, which is linked to the industry and the workplace.
Practical, Action, Perfect
Leading industry and business partnerships aligned with the programs offered by TAFE NSW educational constituencies can equip Australia’s many and varied communities with the skills needed for continued professional expertise and development.
Allowing industry to have space and collaboration at the heart of curricular composition can spark interest from young and mature students looking to upskill and retrain for the future. . The key is to generate interest from below, which will fill the gaps and meet the demand for skilled workers in the key areas of construction, technology, transportation and manufacturing.
This can start with the design of the building itself, ensuring the visibility and transparency of educational activities, clearly defined throughout the campus. Fostering an inviting environment for students, staff and industry partners should be paramount. This must be implemented through a design centered on mental and physical health and well-being. Creating spaces where students enjoy learning is important and should include healthy environments with adequate air circulation and cross-ventilation, indoor and outdoor spaces filled with light, and complementary materials and color palettes to support a feeling of calm.
Designed with a wide range of equipment and spaces for extracurricular activities, educational centers can offer much more than just typical learning outcomes. They can offer students the opportunity to grow and connect with the space, connect with like-minded people, and work alongside industry-leading peers in world-class facilities that enable capabilities Level A for workmanship.
These blended hubs are designed with learning in mind, knowing that accommodation, practical work and study all contribute to a student’s career path, which should set them up with end-to-end requirements. bout for an exemplary skills-based career. .
A digitalized but connected economy
The rise of the digital age is well and truly upon us, although the pandemic has accelerated many businesses that are adopting it for most of their processes. Being tech savvy is no longer an attractive attribute, it’s a prerequisite for the future of work. Our next generations will have to understand digital concepts with great importance, as every major industry moves more online, with a quarter of jobs by 2023 requiring skills in the digital space.
The digitization of our economy can be a benefit, although it can also segregate communities and create gaps in the social development of young people. It also does not accommodate many learning styles, especially kinesthetic and hands-on forms. This is something education centers can solve, combining digital technology with hands-on teaching with people and the built environment itself.
To fully equip a wide range of people with skills for the future of work, educational environments need to showcase and deliver practical, industry- and community-connected pathways. Understanding that people often make sense of things through relationships and interpersonal learning, a variety of spaces for students, educators, and industry should be designed and dedicated to promoting social interaction and collaboration. .
The world is already beginning to see the importance and need for specialized skills in the fields of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. The NSW TAFE Meadowbank Precinct was designed to facilitate the emergence of big data, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, driving NSW’s premier Institute of Applied Technology for Digital Technology, a specialist technology hub. Functionally, it will be organized around a series of learning spaces of varying size and complexity combined with the logistics necessary for multidisciplinary operations.
A final note
Vocational training provided by state governments competes with market forces, funding pressures and competition from private providers, although post-pandemic there is a need to bring skills-based training to the fore . School-based vocational learning is known to have a positive impact on the retention and employment outcomes of our young people – which is worth noting, a key driver for TAFE NSW’s role in reskilling the Australian workforce.
Meeting our critical need to rebuild as a nation of skilled workers must be a priority, where school-aged to middle-aged students have the opportunity to learn new skills, procure apprenticeships, and where businesses can invest in research and the development of new era skills for personnel and the systems themselves.
Education Zones offer it all in one space, with integrated blended-mode learning environments designed to equip our next generations to succeed both professionally and personally. Merging skill sets across all forms of learning paths can benefit any industry – not just the ones you typically think of first. At some point, all organizations will be faced with cloud-based big data processes and problem solving, which requires the efficiency of new age skills that only professional training can provide.
Gray Puksand currently carries out a significant number of professional training projects across Australia, including at the Meadowbank and Kingswood campuses of TAFE NSW, Chisholm TAFE in Frankston and The Gordon Culinary School in Geelong.