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Scientific literacy low priority for CAM practitioners

A draft industry skills forecast for the complementary health industry puts scientific literacy near the bottom of a list of “key generic skills – ranked in order of importance”.

“Sciences, mathematics and scientific literacy” ranks 11 out of 12, meaning that finance and entrepreneurship (including the ability to sell ideas and products) are more important. Only “environmental and sustainability” skills rate lower than an appreciation and knowledge of science.

The complementary medicine disciplines covered in the forecast are: aromatherapy; Ayurveda; kinesiology; massage and remedial massage therapy; reflexology; shiatsu; and traditional Chinese medicine remedial massage.

The list is part of a skills forecast document prepared by SkillsIQ, “a not-for-profit, independent skills service organisation supporting a range of industry reference committees (IRCs) to undertake training product development that ensures skills meet future industry needs”. SkillsIQ receives some financial support from the Commonwealth government.

The 17 IRCs that SkillsIQ works with are responsible for overseeing the development and review of training packages serving the skills needs of almost 50 per cent of the Australian workforce.

SkillsIQ objectives include facilitating IRCs to advise the Australian Government via the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) on “positioning Australia to respond to additional demands for services as our population ages and to capitalise on synergies across the services sector to increase career pathways and mobility and recruitment of young people”.

The complementary health skills document is not sure how many businesses there are in the overall complementary medicine sector – depending on the source there is somewhere between 19,500 to nearly 30,000. Those numbers include other services not covered by the skills forecast, but are still classified as complementary or “allied” services. Most of these businesses are single-person operations.

The 12 generic skills required by CAM operators were supplied by the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training, though not necessarily in the order presented. Ranked from most important to least, they are:
1. Communication/collaboration/social intelligence
2. Learning agility/information literacy/intellectual autonomy
3. Customer service/marketing
4. Financial
5. Entrepreneurial
6. Language, literacy and numeracy
7. Design mindset/thinking critically/system thinking/problem solving
8. Technology and application
9. Data analysis
10. Managerial/leadership
11. Science, technology, engineering and maths (sciences, mathematics and scientific literacy)
12. Environmental/sustainability

The 7th skillset, which includes “thinking critically”, covers “Ability to adapt products to rapidly shifting consumer tastes and trends. Ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed via technology. Ability to understand how things that are regarded as systems influence one another within a complete entity, or larger system. Ability to think holistically.”

There is an online form where comments on the draft forecast can be made. Submissions close on February 12.

Tim Mendham :