On 2 February 2016 AHEIA released the Australian Higher Education Workforce of the Future Report, which was commissioned in association with the DVCs Corporate group of Universities Australia to put the spotlight on how to enable universities to compete in a globally competitive market.
The report looks at the university environment as affected by environmental change drivers over the next 10-15 years, and concludes that major changes to the higher education workforce are needed, and are needed now. It sets out a roadmap for implementation of necessary changes, that will differ in emphasis from university to university in 12 related areas covering capability, engagement and structure of the university workforce.
The key findings of the report include: The urgent need for change and differentiation – universities need to act now to stay competitive, and for the sector as a whole to remain globally competitive.
The diversity of universities will increase in the future. Their differentiation will be strongly influenced by how they choose to respond to external drivers of change.
Universities need to adopt business models that fit their future needs – there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach that needs to be taken.
All universities will need a flexible, agile workforce in the future. Whilst many universities have made recent investments in workforce reform, change is needed to develop a workforce that is sufficiently flexible, specialised and self-renewing to be properly responsive to changing stakeholder expectations.
The study revealed that 42% of university leaders believe government policy and funding will be the most significant driver over the period. It also revealed the importance of differentiating and future proofing university business models. The report identifies a range of workforce reforms that universities need to consider implementing to better align their workforces to strategic priorities.
While Australian universities are competing with global universities for academic and professional talent only 5% of university leaders rate their employee value proposition
as being “very high,” suggesting di culties for competing for talent on a global scale.
All universities will need to consider the design and skill requirements of existing and new job roles, with a view to introducing flexibility that is responsive to employer and student demands. The report also highlights the need to invest in leadership, and a need to look at the design of performance management and reward systems.
The report concludes that:”Should the sector not undertake this change now … the challenges identified above and throughout this report will continue to accelerate, putting more pressure on both the higher education sector and its workforce as a whole, and also Australia’s future workforce and economic prosperity.”