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Looking to change roles or top up your education? A university short course can help

The rapid evolution of digital technology over the last decade has fundamentally altered the way we work and learn. Instead of years of study and a ‘job for life’, more Australians are seeking bite-sized learning opportunities and short-term roles as part of the new gig economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this shift toward flexibility, with many Australians finding themselves unemployed and businesses either closing or moving to remote working.

Key to Australia’s economic recovery from the pandemic will be ensuring job seekers have access to the education and professional development opportunities they need to successfully re-enter the workforce.

An influx of new digital solutions within organisations has also led to the growth of new occupations, and created a need for shorter, more flexible learning opportunities to enable Australian workers to reskill or upskill and qualify for more tech-specific roles.

Recent analysis of the Australian job market by the National Skills Commission1 revealed: “Of the around 600 occupations within the skills classification, more than 75 per cent have at least one technology tool relevant to the occupation. Even for occupations that require limited use of technology tools in day-to-day work, they still are an important part of performing tasks in that job successfully.”

For workers laid off due to Covid-19 seeking to transition into more in demand roles, tech-based skills could be vital.

“Over the past decade Australia’s labour market has undergone large-scale structural shifts as we see traditional roles morph into those that simply have not existed previously,” said Interim National Skills Commissioner Adam Boyton.

The National Skills Commission uses the example of an unemployed waiter looking to transition into a more in demand role such as an Information Officer. The waiter would require additional skills such as invoice processing, computer skills and problem-solving, that may require further training.

However, upskilling to qualify for a new role is only one of the reasons Australian’s pursue flexible learning opportunities. Many choose to study throughout their career to develop a deeper understanding of areas of interest. This tendency has become so common, it was coined ‘the 60-year curriculum’ by Hunt Lambert, Dean of Harvard University’s Extension School.

Embracing lifelong learning

The Centre for Continuing Education, the University of Sydney3, describes this emerging pattern of education as beginning after students have entered the workforce.

“The growing trend of balancing studies with work starts in the undergraduate years. Overseas and in Australia, more students are entering formal studies after age 25 and while working. Juggling various commitments, these students are taking longer than ever to complete their degrees – prompting a growing need for education providers to offer more so-called bite-sized study units.”

In response, many Australian universities have significantly boosted the amount of short courses they offer to cater to the needs of this more diverse group of students.

The Centre for Continuing Education, the University of Sydney for instance offers at least 500 choices across a broad range of specialties and interest areas.

Sunsuper’s Dream Rewards helps members learn for less

At Sunsuper, we’re all about empowering our members to achieve their dreams.

As part of Sunsuper’s Dream Rewards program, we’ve partnered with some of Australia’s top universities to offer Sunsuper members discounts on a wide range of university short courses.

There are plenty of online courses members can complete from the comfort of home and some courses can also be undertaken on-campus.

Discounts include:

  • 7.5% off short courses from the Centre for Continuing Education, the University of Sydney (USYD)
  • Up to 25% off the cost of professional development and short courses at the Queensland University of Technology (QUTeX)
  • Complete three UpSkill mini-courses and enrol in your fourth mini-course at no cost at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ)
  • Up to 15% off on a number of short courses at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS Open)

Visit to see the full list of deals and how to claim them.

To join Sunsuper, go to


1National Skills Commission, A snapshot in time: The Australian labour market and COVID-19, 1 July 2020

2LinkedIn, 2020 Emerging Jobs Report

3University of Sydney, ‘Welcome to the age of the 60-year-curriculum’

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