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Looking back on 2019

RMIT Online CEO, Helen Souness reflects on a big 2019


What an incredible year 2019 has been!   


I want to start by saying thank you to our phenomenal community.  Thank you to the students who have battled through work and life commitments to upgrade their skills and embrace lifelong learning. Thank you to our irreplaceable industry partners - over 50 of you now - who helped validate, write, build and teach our courses.  Thank you to our tireless academics and Course Managers who have helped teach and deliver online programs to students across the country (and even globe!)  


Our mission at RMIT online is to build a community of lifelong learners successfully navigating the world of work.  We know it takes a community to address the Australian and Asian skill gaps and we are so grateful to be working with our incredible community to meet the needs of our students.  It truly takes a village. 


Some of the highlights from the year (because when it’s good news, you’ve got to celebrate it!)  


  • Launched an additional 22 Future Skills courses, taking the total portfolio of short courses to over 35. We also introduced a number of ‘firsts’ in the postgraduate market, including Australia’s first dedicated postgraduate qualification - the Graduate Certificate in Emerging Technologies and Law - empowering legal professionals to deal with the radical change of disruption in law.  

  • Expanded our Blockchain and iOS App Development with Swift courses into Singapore through a partnership with the Singaporean Government’s Skills Future. 

  • Supported some of our partners doing incredible work to promote diversity of gender in tech, including Girls In Tech and The League of Extraordinary Women. 

  • Grew and deepened our industry network to now include over 50 partners including the likes of Apple, Salesforce, Adobe, Tigerspike and REA Group. For us to deliver the very best learning experiences in tech, digital and other skills short areas, we needed to ensure we build our courses with people who are at the very frontier of tech and digital innovation.  

  • And most importantly we helped to upskill approximately 19,000 online students this year. Wow - that’s a lot of students!  

Despite this, we know Australia is suffering a critical skills crisis with some of the largest capability gaps in the Western world between the skills sought by employers in their job ads, and the skills of those applying for their jobs (reference Indeed).  Estimates of potential impacts of automation on jobs, are as high as 50% of roles impacted over coming years (World Economic Forum and McInsey). We know that student and employer needs have profoundly changed. We need to redefine how we see education so that it’s not just the degree we did at 21, but a lifelong journey that we dip in and out of throughout our career. 


There will be new jobs created too of course. One of our students, Yawen Chen from our Developing AI Strategy course landed the role of AI Cognitive Linguist with IBM after completing her course with us. Who knew such a role existed a year ago?  Without doubt, the job landscape is changing, and employers require digital and technology skills many of us don’t yet have. Lifelong learning is becoming essential for everyone of us, to stay relevant and well positioned to get those next generation roles.  

We’re excited for what 2020 will bring - and the many existing and new partners who will help us to continue to expand our portfolio of courses to upskill Australians.  Everyone needs to be digitally literate, and there is still much work to be done.  We will come back in the New Year ready to address this skills challenge with you all, and do our part in helping us all in our lifelong learning journey.  But in the meantime, we thank you for your contribution to our community to date and wish everyone a very happy holidays and a successful and healthy 2020 


Warmest regards 


Helen and the RMIT Online team 


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This article was originally published on 18 December 2019