Because I work in a polytechnic, I was interested in what the work situation might be like in 30 years, and how that could influence vocational institutions. It helped me to try and imagine the kinds of economic, political and business structures that might exist in 30 years.
I’ve now revised my matrix. I wasn’t happy with one of my axes so changed the local-global perspective to one moving from the public to the private good. With some tweaking, I think the scenarios now fit better.
Technology has improved to the point where automation and robotics has replaced many jobs. People work less but travel further afield in search of opportunities. International agreements encourage people to travel and work overseas but many governments have taken a hands-off approach to funding or controlling tertiary education. Education has become a commodity that grows and changes to meet individual needs and current issues. The growth in niche educational providers in Asia who offer courses cheaply online has resulted in similar competition worldwide. Vocational institutions specialise in distance education, with fewer campus-based programmes offered. Now students have a huge range of choice in courses, study online and through mobile learning. They choose their subjects and use social media as part of the shared global learning experience. When students complete courses they submit their results and other artefacts to certified assessors who authenticate and certify competence.
This is a world where multi-national companies employ a large number of the workforce. They also own or support many vocational institutions that subsidise students into short term programmes that match the needs of the company. They offer low or no fees in return for service. Polytechnics specialise in a few STEM areas and offer both blended and distance versions of courses. Standardised qualifications help to get students on the employment ladder. There is a high mobility of students to other regions and countries seeking work or promotion and study can be transferred to overseas campuses or continued online. Students are supported by ILPs based on learning analytics. These corporations also invest a lot of money into educational technologies and dictate the kinds of technologies used in the institutions they support.
New Zealand’s Got Talent
In this scenario, technology is encouraging the growth of small business and the Internet is the main means of doing business. Local entrepreneurship and self-employment is prevalent, although the market is global. People are demanding a wide range of business and STEM courses and partially government funded polytechnics compete with other private providers who offer government approved competency credentials. People want flexibility and targeted online and blended short courses proliferate. Students are prepared to pay for excellent teaching and support, so online courses are interactive using the best materials accessed globally. There is high mobility between providers as students seek courses that best meet their personal needs.
Close to Home
In this scenario, political conditions and a worldwide recession have restricted the movement of people and goods. Vocational tertiary institutions are small and regional. They struggle to survive with limited government funding and provide a limited range of courses to meet employers’ needs. There is little money or incentive for research development and upgrading technology, so government funding is spent on local campuses providing retraining opportunities for the unemployed. There is a mix of face to face and online learning as economics often makes it more viable to offer online resources with fewer teachers there to provide support. Technology is mainly used to provide access to existing resources and there is little innovative use of digital tools.