TVETs need digital tech for competitive edge

TVET student

A mechanical engineering student operates a lathe machine at Nyeri Technical Institute. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Digitisation is rapidly changing the skills-sets needed in diverse fields as employers search for human resources with proficiencies in artificial intelligence (AI), automation, Big Data and collaborative technologies.

The World Economic Forum notes that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is evolving the physical learning environment to accommodate and encourage the uptake of digital skills.

These are ushering in unprecedented scientific and technological advances with capabilities to green the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) education ecosystem. The re-engineering is impacting both how traditional markets operate and the expertise that will enable TVET learners to stay relevant and benefit from 4IR.

To create synergy in the wake of greening the education ecosystem, TVET institutions have to adopt digital innovation to deliver intended learning outcomes and accelerate the creation of green jobs.

Green jobs tackle economic downturns and environmental degradation. The proficiencies of 4IR call for competencies that enable beneficiaries to adapt and benefit from digital adaptation, which transforms the nature of learning as well as instils in them the technical acumen to cope with the changing social dynamics of the tech-driven world of work.

As the pace of digital transformation evolves, its relevance to investment in new digital technologies for TVET is inevitable due to increased demand to reskill as well as the opportunities provided for by the changing job markets.

To begin with, TVET learning experiences and knowledge sharing can be made more flexible through simulation-based learning techniques — virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.

Moreover, flipped classroom learning through open educational resources and AI. Adaptive learning, robotics, blockchain and gamification, can equally change the dichotomy of traditional on-site learning.

Specifically, AI has capabilities for categorisation and machine learning can be leveraged to analyse data at a scale and depth that was previously impossible, paving the way for new research areas.

The UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, 2021 points out that human-centred AI, built on ethical design principles used in line with accepted universal values and requires human-centred AI governance.

This demands TVET institutions to be agile and adaptable to form robust responses to the changes being driven by AI.

The use of AI in teaching and learning can improve learning assessments. What is more, the collaborative filtering ability of AI focuses on teachers to facilitate more inclusive and effective teaching and learning.

Teaching transversal skills and improving the responsiveness of TVET education to emerging trends requires close cooperation between education, research and industry.

The writer is a communication and public policy analyst.

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