The future of adult education in Australia

As we enter this new millennium, many believe that adult learning will play a crucial role in determining individual and collective economic and social success. Indeed, there is a general view among economic and education commentators and policy makers that all countries could secure a comparative advantage and continue to improve their standards of living by moving more into the production of high value added goods and services whose production is more knowledge-intensive.

In this way, human capital investment is seen as an essential ingredient in the growth recipe of advanced economies. However, economic imperatives are of course, not the only reason for fostering a learning culture in the world.

Learning throughout life goes further than updating one's knowledge to improve productivity and individual earning power; it is also an important component of an individual’s social inclusion and active citizenship. So, in many respects, an individual's success depends on his/her ability and readiness to learn throughout life, and in this regard, adult education provides an individual with the opportunity to improve the overall quality of his/her life.

Traditionally, OECD countries (like Switzerland, Germany, Austria, England, and Australia) have relied on people receiving qualifications from schools and universities to meet their economy's increased demand for occupation-specific workplace skills. Australia has been at the forefront of offering a world-renowned educational system. As a result, Australia has the highest level of post secondary completion in the OECD, and a comparatively high level of literacy skills in the adult population (OECD 1998).
In this way, if you choose to study in Australia you will be educated by some of the best education providers and institutions in the world.

So, what makes Australia's education system and methodologies work? To begin with, Australia's education system emphasizes advanced cognitive learning techniques (such as 'constructive' learning which emphasizes self-discovery and self-directed learning). It also offers many courses that are directly linked and structured along contemporary workplace needs.

This makes Australia's qualifications highly marketable and practical in the world market. Another important aspect of Australia's education system is the cutting-edge technology and education facilities available to its students. Basically, attaining an Australian qualification increases one's employability.

Generally speaking, attaining adult education qualifications and receiving higher pay go hand in hand. In this way, adult learning is an important strategy in enabling a person to develop skills that provide economic and social returns such as greater equity, higher income, social inclusion and a greater understanding of the world at large. This can only bring greater benefits to society at large, and the individual in particular.

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