Victoria Polytechnic: The TAFE of Tomorrow

18 September 2017

Whoever said ‘times have changed’ was right. But when it comes to today’s job market, it’s more accurate to say that ‘technology has changed the times.’

We’ve said goodbye to Switchboard Operators, Lamp Lighters, and Milkmen, and said hello to Virtual Assistants, Offshore Wind Farm Operators, and SEO Specialists. Thanks to technology, there are countless job titles today that simply didn’t exist ten years ago.

Of course, there are many jobs that have sidestepped eradication and remained on the market - particularly in trades-based fields. For example, carpenters, bricklayers, painters, and plumbers are still in demand. But even though the job titles remain, the nature of many of these jobs is set to change due to the rise of new technologies and products.

Aged care students use VR technology to connect with key concepts on a real-world level.

In fact, technology has been adding improvements to trade-based work in terms of pace and precision for years now. For example, carpenters of the past were required to make small-scale models of a structure before a job was undertaken to ensure the angles and lengths of rafters in a roof were framed correctly. But now, computer aided design (CAD) allows for this level of precision through an automated process. Management software, blueprint apps, and drones are further examples of tech-based tools used in the construction industry today.

Not only has the job market changed significantly, it will continue to change. And if the job market is in a constant state of technological evolution, then higher education institutes need to be too. It’s not possible to prepare pupils for the jobs of today and tomorrow using techniques from yesteryear.

Footscray Technical School opened its doors in 1916 and was intended to offer students an education that would prepare them for a role in the skilled workforce. Victoria University Polytechnic (VU Polytechnic) and Victoria University (VU) are direct descendants of Footscray Technical School and both institutes proudly inherit its century-old tradition of equipping students with skills matched to workforce needs.

Six reasons why VU Poly is the TAFE of Tomorrow.

The future of construction

VU Polytechnic’s Sunshine campus is home to building and construction trade courses, a range of engineering courses, and a world-class trade training centre. This $44 million industry training facility was the third in Victoria to achieve a 6 star green star certification. It is flexible and adaptable, and can be modified to suit industry demand and emerging technologies, making it the perfect base for our construction program.

High-tech teaching equipment

This year alone, VU Polytechnic will receive more than $550,000 in state government funding for specialised teaching equipment. Think: humanoid robots, virtual reality goggles, computerised mannequins, and simulation equipment. With access to equipment of this calibre, students graduating from our beauty, community services and health courses are better equipped to keep up with rapidly changing technology in their sectors. These tools also provide unique opportunities for students to connect with key concepts on a real-world level. For example, health students work with mannequins exhibiting real patient symptoms, and paramedicine students train in simulated ambulances. 

Award-winning learning model

In 2017, VU Polytechnic received multi-national recognition for its teaching and learning methods. At the LearnX Impact Awards, our Learning Development team took out the Platinum Winner award for ‘Best Blended Learning Model’ and the Silver award for ‘Best Interactive Scenario Design’. Our Blended Learning Model provides a flexible eLearning environment for students to further develop skills acquired in face-to-face workshops and work placements. It now encompasses over 30 TAFE courses.

Inside the Wyndham Tech School, opening mid-2018.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Students completing qualifications in Certificate III in Individual Support and Certificate IV in Ageing Support are using VR to improve their support for people living with dementia. The Walk Through Dementia app, developed by Alzheimer’s Research UK, uses VR to present familiar situations from the perspective of someone living with dementia.This experiential learning exercise is an extension of VPoly’s award winning blended learning model.

Community awareness

A contemporary $35 million facility called The Skills Hub will soon be built at the Sunshine campus.The Hub aims to tackle two major issues faced by youth in Melbourne’s west: significant levels of unemployment and chronic illness, while simultaneously addressing a critical skills shortage. The Hub will offer construction technologies, advanced manufacturing and health technologies, and health and community services. With half the region’s population speaking a language other than English at home, targeted language, literacy and numeracy programs will also be on offer. 

STEM-focused partnerships 

Wyndham Tech School is one of 10 Centres of Technological Excellence being built across Victoria as part of the government’s plan to boost student performance in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM). Wyndham Tech School is a collaboration between VU, local secondary schools, industry and community, and will provide clear pathways from secondary school into VU Polytechnic and VU. Up to 12,000 Wyndham high school students from 18 local partner schools will have access to the facility’s 3D printers, robotics, virtual-reality studios, simulation hubs, and interactive classes. Curriculums will focus on areas forecast for the greatest growth, with links to local industry and future job opportunities. The facility will collaborate with organisations such as Wyndham City Council, LEADWest, WynBay Local Learning and Employment Network, and Committee for Wyndham. All of this means that western suburbs students will have direct access to a learning centre designed specifically to equip them for jobs of the 21st century.

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