The Albanese Government has pledged to invest $4.1 billion to address the pressing economic challenges in Australia by providing high-quality training and education to the workforce. The government will allocate $3.7 billion for a five-year National Skills Agreement (NSA) that will be negotiated with states and territories. In addition, $400 million will be provided to support 300,000 TAFE and vocational education and training (VET) Fee-Free places.
The government’s investment clearly indicates its dedication to collaborating with states and territories to guarantee that the VET sector, with TAFE as its centrepiece, provides accessible education and training to equip Australians with the necessary skills for secure and well-paying jobs while also addressing skill shortages for employers.
The success of the negotiations for the National Skills Agreement (NSA) will push the Commonwealth’s investment in state and territory training systems amounting to $12.8 billion over a period of five years.
Following ten years of disagreement, the government is now seeking a suitable method with states and territories, inviting them to join in national stewardship in addressing agreed-upon national priorities and VET reform areas through a five-year NSA starting in January 2024.
Provided that negotiations are successful, the funds will be made available in accordance with the vision and guiding principles that were agreed upon at the National Cabinet before the Jobs and Skills Summit to support significant areas of reform.
The investment will support major reform areas, including:
A joint effort to ensure that Australian adults who lack language, literacy, numeracy, and digital skills can acquire crucial competencies for work, career advancement, and successful completion of vocational education training courses or apprenticeships. The absence of foundation skills is assumed to affect three million Australians.
300,000 Fee-Free TAFE courses
This will be offered in key sectors, such as aged care, disability support, veterans’ support, early childhood education, the clean economy, manufacturing, defence industries, construction, agriculture, hospitality, tourism, cybersecurity, and technology.
Closing the Gap for First Nation Students and Apprentices
Collaborating closely with First Nation communities, individuals, and training providers to facilitate skill development that caters to their needs and promotes their career prospects.
Women’s participation and gender equality
A collaborative approach to assist women in enroling and finishing VET courses and apprenticeships successfully. The focus will be on obtaining skills in higher-paying jobs, specifically in male-dominated trades. Additionally, there will be an effort to encourage men to participate and acquire skills in areas that have traditionally had a higher representation of women, such as caregiving, to promote gender equality.
Completion rates and support
Improving completion rates and providing support for students who face barriers is a national priority aimed at enhancing the outcomes for VET students and apprentices, particularly those historically underrepresented in the workforce, including individuals with disabilities.
Centres of Excellence
TAFE Centres of Excellence will collaborate with industries, universities, and governments to tackle pressing issues in our economy. This includes the shift towards a green economy, manufacturing and national capability, as well as care and support.
VET Workforce capability
Together with the sector, a VET Workforce Blueprint will be created to reinforce the sector and assist a skilled VET workforce in delivering industry-specific and current curricula.
The Albanese Government has already made significant progress by delivering a 12-month agreement that created 180,000 Fee-Free TAFE and Vocational Education Training places this year, and this investment is poised to build upon those strides.
The shortage of skilled workers in Australia has become a crucial issue as the number of occupations facing this problem has increased significantly from 153 in 2021 to 286 in 2022. Additionally, 60% of the overall employment growth is comprised of jobs that require vocational education and training as the primary pathway.
It is vital for the Commonwealth, State, and the $4.1 billion investment to create more opportunities for Australians to upskill and reskill to fill skill gaps in the workforce and meet the demands of the changing economy. The investment will also help close the gap for First Nation students and apprentices and support women’s participation and gender equality in the VET sector.
The objective of this cooperative approach is to tackle agreed national priorities and VET reform areas by means of the five-year NSA starting from January 2024, provided that negotiations are successful.
Read more about the news on the investment here.