The Albanese Government is ready to make a significant investment of $4.1 billion towards enhancing the skills and training of Australia. The investment in skills and training will be split into two parts: $3.7 billion over five years for a National Skills Agreement (NSA) to be negotiated with states and territories and $400 million to provide 300,000 TAFE and vocational education and training (VET) fee-free places. Although the exact details of the investment are still being ironed out, one thing is certain – the government is dedicated to improving education and training opportunities for everyone.
Ensuring High-Quality, Responsive and Accessible VET
This investment is a significant step towards ensuring that Australia’s VET sector, with TAFE at its core, provides high-quality, responsive, and accessible education and training. The Albanese Government is determined to help Australians gain the skills necessary for secure and well-paying employment while also addressing the shortage of skills employers need.
Addressing the Shortage of Skilled Workers in Australia
Australia is experiencing a severe shortage of skilled workers, with the number of occupations facing a skills shortage nearly doubling from 153 in 2021 to 286 in 2022. To address this challenge, the government’s recent investment in skills and training is crucial in building a stronger, more innovative, and more flexible VET sector that can effectively train the workforce of the future and offer high-quality education to hundreds of thousands of Australians.
Investment in Skills and Training Will Fund Priorities and Strategies
The proposed NSA will take the total Commonwealth investment in state and territory training systems to $12.8 billion over five years.
The investment in skills and training aims to address agreed national priorities and VET reform areas, including:
- Foundation skills are essential for employment, career progression, and completing vocational education or an apprenticeship. These skills include language, literacy, numeracy, and digital skills. Currently, around three million Australians lack these crucial skills, and a coordinated effort is being made to ensure they can obtain them.
- Providing 300,000 fully-funded TAFE courses to essential industries such as care for the elderly and disabled, veterans’ support, early childhood education, clean energy, manufacturing, defence, construction, agriculture, hospitality, tourism, cybersecurity, and technology.
- Supporting skill development of First Nations students and apprentices in line with their career aspirations and creating more opportunities for them. This will be achieved through close collaboration with First Nations people, their communities, and training providers to bridge the gap.
- Efforts are being made to promote gender equality and encourage more women to enrol and complete VET courses and apprenticeships. These will focus on providing women access to higher-paying occupations, including those traditionally dominated by men, while encouraging men to gain skills in fields where women have historically been overrepresented, such as care.
- A collaborative national initiative to increase completion rates and improve outcomes for students who face different barriers. It includes students with disabilities and those historically underrepresented in the workforce.
- TAFE will support high-quality training by collaborating with leadership networks and others and aiding curriculum development, research, and innovation.
- A VET Workforce Blueprint will be developed in collaboration with the sector to enhance the capability of the VET workforce. It will improve the industry and bolster a skilled VET workforce that delivers current and industry-relevant curricula.
A Partnership for Progress
All governments have committed to working in partnership to negotiate the NSA, which will be in place by 1 January 2024. The Albanese Government’s partnership approach has already created 180,000 fee-free TAFE and VET places this year, and this latest investment in skills and training is expected to build on that success.