Skills Australia welcomes ‘Building Australia’s future workforce’ measures in the federal budget

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Updated: June 24, 2011

Skills Australia today welcomed the Government’s investment in Australia’s workforce of the future through the higher education, skills and participation measures announced in the 2011-12 Budget.

“Our research, reported in Australian Workforce Futures, finds that there will be a significant demand for more people in the workforce and that the workforce of the future will need higher level skills and the ability to adapt to new technology and changing work practices. Education and training can play a crucial role in improving Australia’s lagging productivity. These Budget measures will help to ensure Australia has the workforce capability required for a productive and inclusive future. We welcome them because they are well matched to the skills challenges we face” said the Chair of Skills Australia, Philip Bullock.

“The Government’s new ‘Building Australia’s Future Workforce’ package, which represents a partnership with industry, is particularly welcome with its commitment to greater industry engagement in the training system.

The additional $359 million investment in the National Workforce Development fund will be crucial in addressing skills shortages in specific sectors and industries. It will encourage a focus on workforce development at the enterprise level and will also enable industry to implement training in a flexible way that meets industry’s requirements. This fund also optimises the Government’s investment in training by targeting assistance to areas of greatest skills needs in the economy and by leveraging a financial contribution from industry.”

“The initiatives which are aimed at modernising apprenticeship arrangements and providing more support for apprentices through the provision of careers advice and mentoring services are also welcomed. Our research has found this type of support is essential to delivering improvements in apprenticeship completions.”

“The strong focus on the vocational education and training system in the Budget will be widely applauded by industry and the community. We are very pleased with the confidence the Government has shown in Skills Australia through its decision to extend the role and functions of Skills Australia under the new National Workforce Productivity Agency. We look forward to engaging industry in the transition process to improve productivity through more effective development and use of skills in the workplace under this new arrangement”, said Mr Bullock.

“Skills Australia has argued that Australia should aim for a workforce participation rate of 69 per cent, which is in line with the best performing OECD countries. We have also recommended better engagement of those people marginalised from the workforce as critical to achieving this goal. Skills Australia endorses the Government’s initiatives to improve participation, including the additional support such as the 30,000 language, literacy and numeracy places.

“We welcome the next steps set out by the Government to work with states and territories to renegotiate the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development and introduce a National Partnership to deliver the range of reforms to the vocational education and training system that Skills Australia has called for through our report – Skills for Prosperity: a roadmap for the vocational education and training sector. This initiative and partnership approach is crucial to ensure that there is a shared agenda in the implementation of these new workforce development and training initiatives.”