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Cafe IFAL - Developing 21st Century skills through Action Learning

  • 16 Sep 2020
  • 14:00 - 15:30
  • Zoom
  • 0


Registration is closed

Developing 21st Century skills through Action Learning - Presented by Bob Cother, The Action Learning Institute

Wednesday 16th September 2020 14:00 - 15:30 BST

In Australia, as in other OECD countries, employers report difficulties in finding young people with the required workplace skills. Employers seek young people not only with technical skills, but also ‘21st Century skills’’(sometimes referred to as ‘employability’,‘enterprise’, ‘deep’, ‘future’ or 'human' skills). Job seekers with these skills earn higher wages. Future jobs will require more of these skills. They are common across all occupations and industries.

The World Economic Forum identifies the following as trending skills for 2022:

  • Analytical thinking and innovation

  • Active learning and learning strategies

  • Creativity, originality and initiative

  • Technology design and programming

  • Critical thinking and analysis

  • Complex problem solving

  • Leadership and social influence

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Reasoning, problem solving and ideation

  • Systems analysis and evaluation

Such skills are difficult to develop in a classroom with traditional instructor-led delivery. They are acquired through practice and experience, working with others in a work environment.

The Action Learning Institute contends that action learning lends itself admirably to the development of 21st Century skills. We believe the time is right for action learning to take centre stage in post-secondary education and training.  We are keen to explore this proposition with the global IFAL community and address how action learning capabilities might be defined, assessed and formally recognised.


The South Australian Department for Industry and Skills (DIS) has been encouraging registered training organisations (RTOs) to adopt action learning as a delivery mode. With over ten years experience in using action learning to deliver nationally recognised qualifications in Competitive Systems and Practices, The Action Learning Institute was contracted in 2019 to conduct a series of master classes for South Australian RTOs to demonstrate how we deliver our programs. The master classes revealed that an action learning delivery strategy can be applied across a range of qualifications.

From this experience, the Action Learning Institute has identified the opportunity in Australia for an accredited skill set that:

  • Defines the skills and knowledge required to be an effective action learner

  • Accommodates group learning in the workplace,

  • Embodies best practice assessment of 21st Century skills, and

  • Allows for integrated delivery with other VET courses, as a valued point of difference.

Current thinking suggests that 21st Century skills are best learnt when integrated with technical skills development. With this in mind we have chosen to develop a skill set rather than a full qualification, to encourage integrated delivery with another qualification. In the Australian system, a skill set is a collection of Units of Competency not specific to any one level. We believe an appropriately designed action learning skill set could be integrated with qualifications from Level III to Level V in the Australian Qualifications Framework. 

This session is presented by Bob Cother, Director of the Action Learning Institute (ALI). ALI is an edtech startup and one of the most innovative registered training organisations in Australia. Our unique approach to formal qualification comes from over a decade of action research in education and training, and the development of supporting technology, to deliver nationally recognised qualifications entirely through action learning.

ALI’s training and assessment methodologies have been endorsed by the national vocational training regulator and recognised at the South Australian and Tasmanian Training Awards.

ALI has been instrumental in establishing an action learning industry cluster in the Tamar Valley region of Tasmania. Business Action Learning Tasmania is an independent not-for-profit company and registered charity, run by industry leaders for self-reliant industry development in the region. BALT has partnered with the Tasmanian government to deliver a range of action learning programs, addressing small business growth, competitiveness and sustainability.

In November 2020, BALT will be cohosting the Australasian Action Learning Action Research Conference with the Action Learning Action Research Association. Bob Cother will be presenting the early outcomes of this research project at that Conference.

Café IFAL is a virtual discussion forum where Action Learning practitioners can share their experiences of using Action Learning in real situations. Whether you wish to present a piece of work you’ve delivered – the struggles and successes - or simply contribute to the debate, join us at Café IFAL.

The format of this virtual event includes a brief presentation of a particular piece of Action Learning practice, followed by open discussion where we share related experience and create opportunities to learn with and from each other.

Sessions last 90 minutes and take place on the Zoom platform. 

Numbers are limited to 20 people.  Costs are £10 for members and £20 for non-members.  All fees go towards hosting further events.

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