The Albanese Government has unveiled its 2023-24 budget focusing on skilling and training Australians for a stronger economy and a better future. The government aims to rebuild and modernise the skills sector, ensuring more Australians can access secure and well-paid jobs.
The government is taking action after a decade of failure under the LNP to deliver skills reform, which has resulted in workforce gaps and shortages. Already delivering 180,000 Fee Free TAFE and Vocational Education and Training (VET) places in 2023, the government is investing in financial support for apprentices, particularly those choosing to take a New Energy Apprenticeship.
The new skills investments will build on the $400 million in the October 2022 budget for a further 300,000 Fee Free TAFE and VET places in high-skill needs areas from 2024 to 2026 – subject to agreement with states and territories.
The budget includes several key initiatives, including:
- Additional $3.7 billion upon striking a five-year National Skills Agreement (NSA) with states and territories. This agreement will ensure greater VET access, with TAFE at the centre. National Cabinet has agreed that gender equality and women’s participation in labour markets will be a focus of the NSA, with jurisdictions working collaboratively on national skills priorities, including transformation to a net-zero economy.
- The budget will also provide $436 million over four years to fundamentally reform the way the Commonwealth delivers Foundation Skills programs so more Australians over the age of 15 who need training to improve their literacy, numeracy, and digital skills have access.
- The government is investing $54.3 million in critical Australian Apprenticeship support to improve completion rates. This will particularly benefit women, First Nations people, CALD apprentices, and people with disabilities.
- The government will also deliver the Australian Skills Guarantee and introduce national targets for apprentices, trainees and paid cadets working on Australian Government-funded major infrastructure and ICT projects. The $8.6 million budget includes responsible sub-targets to boost women’s apprenticeship participation.
- The government will allocate $3.9 million in additional funding to establish a defence vocational skills task force over two years. This task force will help develop the workforce required to shape our sovereign industrial base and support the delivery of Australia’s nuclear submarine program.
- The budget allocates $42.2 million to create a modern, fit-for-purpose IT system for the VET Student Loan program, a long-overdue upgrade.
Addressing Australia’s National Skills Shortage: The Importance of a Skilled Workforce
The Albanese Government is taking significant steps to address the national skills shortage in Australia. The government has inherited a skills shortage crisis and is determined to provide more opportunities for Australians to acquire the skills they need to secure rewarding and sustainable employment.
A skilled workforce is critical to Australia’s economic growth and success. However, the country has been facing a national skills shortage for some time, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. The Albanese Government recognises that without a skilled workforce, businesses cannot grow, and the economy cannot thrive.
The Labor Government’s investment in the National Skills Agreement and other initiatives will help address the skills shortage crisis by providing Australians with the necessary training and skills to secure rewarding and sustainable employment. This will not only benefit individuals but also businesses and the economy as a whole.
The Role of TAFE
The Albanese Government invests in the VET sector and the NSA around TAFE. TAFE is crucial in providing Australians with high-quality vocational education and training. The Labor Government’s investment in TAFE will ensure it remains at the centre of the VET sector. It will enable it to deliver the training and skills Australians need to succeed in priority workforce areas.
Closing the Gap for First Nations Australians
The National Skills Agreement also focuses on Closing the Gap for First Nations Australians. This is a critical step in addressing the historical disadvantage faced by First Nations Australians in accessing education and training. The Labor Government is committed to working with First Nations Australians to improve access to education and training and ensure they have the same opportunities as all Australians. They also hope these initiatives will help set the skills and training sector back on the right path.
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