Australia could be the future call centre capital of the world due to a significant “dumbing down” of our workforce in recent years. Principal of ACS Distance Education John Mason said Australia was arguably churning out more graduates than ever before but they also had less knowledge than ever before thanks to the declining quality of study programs. Meanwhile, Asian countries such as China and India – which currently supply the bulk of the world’s unskilled work force – are producing large crops of graduates from programs with strong academic rigor.
Mr Mason said this increase in skilled workers from other parts of the world had the potential to marginalize Australian workers in the future.
“Countries like Indonesia, China and India are closing the education gap fast,” he said.
“Soon, the workforce in these parts of the world will be more knowledgeable and better qualified than our local workforce. The day could come when Australia is forced to specialize in low-skill work and provide call centre labour to India because our graduates just can’t compete!
Mr Mason said full time study used to mean going to the classroom five days a week, all day, but much had changed in recent years.
“Full time post secondary students in Australia often have whole days without any classes every week,” Mr Mason said.
“In the 1970s it was impossible to obtain a government accredited diploma without attending classes for at least a year and doing a very substantial amount of study. But now under our ‘modern’ Australian Qualifications Training Framework, people are able to undergo assessments and be awarded qualifications without having ever undertaken any formal studies.
“At the end of the day, if a student has only spent only 300 hours in a course, then they still only have 300 hours worth of knowledge – no matter what fancy title you give their piece of paper at the end.”
This contrasted with study programs elsewhere in the world, where face-to-face teaching time was a high priority and study requirements were increasingly rigorous, Mr Mason said.
“Anecdotal evidence indicates that the quality of courses in places like China and India is improving all the time,” he said.
“Many are now on par with or even superior to some of our courses in this country, with students required to commit far more time and effort to attaining a qualification.
“More people are also studying in these countries than ever before. In the past, very few people in Asian countries would ever have had the chance to gain a college or university education, but today, more engineers graduate from Chinese universities than American universities.”
Mr Mason said many people did not realize how much change there had been in education.
“Australia used to give a very high priority to funding academic activity such as research and university education but that priority has been dinted by economic rationalism,” he said.
“Anyone can spend their life savings today and have a better year than the rest of the world. But those who live within their means and invest in the future will always be better off in ten years time.
“Australia would do well to apply this principle to its education system before it’s too late.”
John Mason ACS Distance Education www.acs.edu.au and www.acseduonline.com