Future work and learning in a disrupted world: ‘The Best Chance for All’
This Special Issue, devoted to micro-credentials and qualifications for future work and learning in a disrupted world, is a welcome and critically timed contribution to educational theorising and practice internationally. COVID-19 has accelerated Industry 4.0’s pervasive labour market disruption. Digitisation’s efficiencies have been rapidly embraced and broadly up-scaled as a matter of necessity. Many industries and professions have fast tracked digitalisation to transform pre-pandemic business models for current and future sustainability. We have seen all education sectors – Kindergarten to Year 12 (K-12), vocational education and training/ further education (VET/FE) and higher education (HE) – digitise and digitalise to varying degrees in their rapid move to emergency remote teaching (Hodges et al., 2020). Robust evaluation will be needed to assess the efficacy of that pedagogical triaging – our well-intentioned ‘panic-gogy’ (Kamenetz, 2020) – to inform the quality and fitness-for-future-purpose of that online pivot. In the meantime, HE’s students and graduates emerge from 2020 wanting to support and apply their studies in a challenging job market that was already weakening pre-pandemic and has now worsened (for example in the Australian context, Social Research Centre, 2020), especially for young people. If that was not enough, significant and underlying issues of climate change, reconciliation with First Nations, demographic change and globalisation continue to have implications for equal and equitable participation in the full range of life opportunities, including in meaningful paid work. In brief, the context for this Special Issue is an international grand challenge writ very large.