Thousands of apprentices, trainees and employees to benefit from digital skills pilot project

Thousands of apprentices, trainees and employees to benefit from digital skills pilot project

The Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) and the National Apprentice Employment Network (NAEN) today announced the establishment of a pilot program to examine ways to better assess, incorporate and fast-track digital skills in the apprenticeship sector.

At a time when digital skills are becoming increasingly important, the pilot project will enable large numbers of apprentices and trainees, as well as their employers, to assess and improve digital literacy in the workplace..

Under the initiative, DSO will provide access to digital assessment and upskilling tools, and NAEN will facilitate the engagement of member group training organisations (GTOs) who employ apprentices and trainees.

NAEN is Australia’s largest employer network of apprentices and trainees, representing some 25,000 apprentices and trainees, engaged by about 100,000 largely small and medium sized businesses.

The digital pilot program provides the chance to reach a critical cohort who are entering the first stage of their skills journey, from plumbers to hairdressers, carpenters to chefs.

Australia’s digital skills gap is widening, compared with global peers. Only 26 per cent of Australian workers consider themselves ‘very prepared’ for workplace digital skills. Australian workers are also less advanced in using digital communication tools, with only 37 per cent citing advanced skills (compared with 46 per cent global average), and 26 per cent citing advanced skills in productivity tools (43 per cent global average). Salesforce Global Digital Skills Index (GDSI) January 2022.

“We can reach large numbers through working together to solve the digital skills gaps. The need is urgent and only through collaboration and thinking differently will we gain significant reach. NAEN has an incredibly broad network that, combined with the right digital upskilling pilot, will provide benefits, not only to individuals but also to their employers through improved business performance,” Patrick Kidd, DSO CEO said.

Patrick Kidd announcing DSO's latest upskilling pilot program during the NAEN 2022 Conference in Tasmania.

Dianne Dayhew, NAEN Chief Executive Officer, said the need for digital literacy and fluency is growing across all industries, and apprentices and trainees are at the forefront of this change.

“We are very excited to be working with the DSO. We think this is the ideal time to collaborate and help the next generation to meet the challenges of the digital landscape.”

This will be one of Australia's largest training pilots in digital skills. With over 87% of jobs now requiring digital skills, digital skills, training needs to be more accessible to all. DSO has been piloting digitally upskills opportunities since 2020 and will bring an easy to use, relevant and data-driven pilot to the NAEN network.

NAEN member GTOs place apprentices and trainees with host businesses. GTOs have graduated more than a million apprentices and trainees since their inception in the 1970s. GTOs work predominantly with small and medium sized businesses and assist thousands of people, including school leavers, mature age workers, those with disability, Indigenous jobseekers, defence force personnel, youth and new migrants.

“This is one of a number of DSO collaborations. We are also working with the Tech Council of Australia and have developed a joint Digital Employers Forum. This Forum reaches large companies, such as OfficeWorks and Woolworths, and trials new approaches to digital skills training and developing more consistent pathways to align learners, employers and training providers better. Both these collaborations are just the start. To succeed, we need more organisations across all industries to recognise the urgent need to upskill and train people in digital skills,” said Patrick Kidd, CEO DSO.

Media contact:
Paige Folta, Digital Skills Organisation, 0414 899 929
Bob Bowden, NAEN, 0412 753 298

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