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2016 CDAA National Conference
25 - 27 May 2016 • The Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, Victoria
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Welcome from the National President

On behalf of the National Executive Committee, we would like to thank everyone for attending the 26th Annual National Conference of the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA), which was held from the 25th – 27th May, 2016 in Melbourne, Victoria.

This 2016 CDAA Conference provided information, advice and an informed debate about some of the key challenges facing Australia in its future skill needs. The theme of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has far wider implications for Australian society than the need for more highly skilled graduates in these disciplines.

I would put it to you this way: what do electricians, plumbers, carpenters and other trades along with book-keepers, data entry and many other administration and service occupations have in common with doctors, nurses, surveyors and other professions?? They all need well-developed STEM skills particularly in maths and technology.

And yet why are so many young people today lacking in these skills?

Today’s update coincides with the mailing this week of the Autumn edition of the CDAA’s “Australian Career Practitioner” magazine. In it, I draw attention to recent AIG research showing 93% of employers surveyed are grappling with low levels of workplace numeracy and literacy. Since this edition went to press, the OECD has drawn attention to the international comparisons of Australian school students test results being at the European average which is not sufficient to meet future high level skill needs. In fact, we are producing a reducing number of high achieving students and more students in the average or mediocre range.

Professor John Hattie, Chair of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, recently commented that with many Universities having ATAR entry levels for Teaching Degrees set around 50 or below, graduates could be in charge of class groups with more than half of the class brighter then the teacher - another reason why many States are introducing testing regimes for teaching graduates.

This Conference unravel all these related issues and brought together topic experts, the voice of industry and looked at the role of philanthropic organisations in trying to address these issues.

The 2016 CDAA National Conference appealed to career development practitioners in any field of practice, educators, those working in industry, government funded employment services or in Learning and Development or HR disciplines.

Andrew Rimington
National President


Background to the Conference Theme

Some reports suggest 50% of today’s occupations will be redundant by 2025.  How can career practitioners best serve their clients and students in this radical context?

There’s a well known sales axiom of “fish where the fish are”. But in a rapidly transforming career world we should instead ask “where will the fish be?”  This mindset looks to the future and calls for preparation, now.

With stubbornly high unemployment rates in certain demographic segments, with record levels of youth unemployment, on the one hand, and industries unable to recruit candidates with the knowledge, skills, and attributes, on the other, there is a seriously wicked problem to be solved.   International benchmarks indicate that Australia still lags behind other OECD states on educational performance with little improvement over the last decade. For example, Australia is ranked 12th of 22 nations in OECD’s survey of adult numeracy skills, with nearly 20% of Australians assessed to be at the lowest skill levels.

This is a significant issue along with literacy levels as these skills are critical for economic and social participation in the technology–rich 21st century. Proficiency in these skills is linked to workforce participation, employment outcomes and earning capacity.

This Conference will explore the way that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are promoted as key pathway opportunities, with many commentators identifying future shortfalls in talent possessing these skills, while careers of the future that demand STEM, increase significantly.

However, does this wicked problem mean that STEM occupations are for everyone? How transferable across careers will STEM skills be? If very large numbers of career hunters develop STEM skills, could people be well advised to look to other opportunities, and potentially less competition? And how relevant are these skills for entry level positions when the projected areas of job growth for the next 5 years includes the services sector, business, retail and tourism sectors?

This Conference aims to address all of these questions, and much more. 

I look forward to welcoming you to Melbourne, Australia’s premier city of food and culture, to benefit from a diverse range of presenters and thought-leaders on Australia’s continuing need for Evolution and Innovation to tackle the inevitable Transformation.


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Congratuations to Narelle Sommerfeld of Emmaus College Rockhampton, who is the winner of the Free Registration Competition, and thanks to all the delegates who participated by being one of the first 100 delegates to register for the Conference.


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