Compensation for this post was provided by Upskilled. Opinions expressed here are my own.
The need for greater financial literacy among Australians is undeniable. Negotiating the financial landscape is an essential 21st Century life-skill, with everyone required to manage money effectively in order to achieve financial and lifestyle goals. The importance of financial literacy hasn’t gone unnoticed by governments either. Initiatives including the National Financial Literacy Strategy 2014-2017 and ASIC’s MoneySmart Teaching program are specifically designed to assist Australians overcome financial hurdles after completing their education.
International findings reveal that Australian students are actually performing reasonably well in financial literacy compared to their overseas counterparts. However, it’s also acknowledged that greater awareness of economic essentials is required if Australian graduates are to remain well placed. In the opinion of many economics and education experts, financial literacy should be positioned as a core subject alongside maths, English and science in our education curriculum. In fact, there are good reasons why financial literacy should be a tangible component of all core subjects.
Financial literacy is a smart move
The National Financial Literacy Strategy defines financial literacy as “the combination of financial knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours necessary to make sound financial decisions, based on personal circumstances, to improve well-being”. Making smart financial decisions builds a financial foundation that strengthens individuals, families and communities. The initiatives aimed at helping young people are admirable, while there is much that can be done to assist all Australians, regardless of age.
Some notable educators have moved with the times, providing highly-regarded certificate, diploma, graduate diploma and bachelor courses that are tailor-made to sync with associated education or employment choices. Upskilled is one such Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that spreads its reach beyond the school yard to connect with professionals, job seekers and recent graduates. Online learning strategies are increasingly popular, and RTO’s are now leading the way while government departments struggle to adjust to the new paradigm.
Financial literacy for future-proofing
The opportunity to learn anywhere at any time is a financial literacy pathway that meets the needs of modern Australians. The alternative of sticking to outdated course delivery methods is becoming extremely costly and unwieldy in the present economic climate. Challenges faced by traditional institutions include:
- An expanding and crowded education curriculum
- Resistance to combining financial literacy within core subjects
- Increasing demands on teachers and education institutions
- A need for additional teacher training
- A lack of financial literacy awareness within the community
There is no doubt that national change requires united effort from governments, educators and individuals. Financial literacy is essential not only for accumulation of wealth, but also for future-proofing lifestyle choices and avoiding pitfalls that eat into savings. Regardless of occupation, our money requires management to maximise its potential.
It’s good to know there are education providers who have a future focus. More than ever, our economy is affected by international influences and technological advances that need to be understood. As noble and proud as Australian universities are, they are also extremely cumbersome and struggle to adapt quickly to the changing education landscape. The MoneySmart government initiative is an attempt to bridge the gap, requiring massive financial input and a huge amount of resources. Although the attempt is admirable, one wonders whether MoneySmart is actually the smartest use of money, or if greater financial input should be directed to the ever-expanding online education environment.
Financial literacy for all Australians
It has become obvious that RTO’s are the learning institutions of choice for many Australian and international students. Courses are adaptable, often interchangeable and linked to facilitate desired study outcomes. Understanding the Australian and international economic climate is a key component of RTO course structure, with financial literacy establishing a pervasive and much-needed presence. Additionally, RTO’s have established relationships with employers, meaning graduates are academically and practically prepared to commence their career with a solid financial understanding.
To its credit, the Australian government has kept RTO’s in the education loop, and stronger partnerships are the result. Education pathways linking schools, TAFE, private institutions and universities are being encouraged to take some weight off top-heavy government departments, and if strategies are aligned to facilitate equal opportunity for everyone, there is a good chance that financial literacy will become a core ability shared by all Australians.