Federal, State, and Territory Skills and Training Ministers convened on 30 June 2023 to advance crucial reforms concerning vocational education and training (VET) and create a new National Skills Agreement (NSA). Their collective commitment is to ensure these reforms foster the skills and workforce required for a high-performing economy.
New Funding and Management under National Skills Agreement
During the meeting, the Skills Ministers discussed the vital structure for new funding and management arrangements under the NSA, which is set to begin on 1 January 2024. The focus is on providing States and Territories with increased flexibility, autonomy, and funding certainty to address national, State, and Territory priorities. The NSA aims to promote joint stewardship of the VET sector, identifying and addressing national priorities while accommodating localised responses and adaptability.
Qualifications Reform to Foster a Resilient and High-Performing Workforce
Qualifications reform emerged as pivotal to supporting workforce development and building a resilient and productive economy. In this regard, the Skills Ministers reconfirmed their commitment to a VET qualifications system that is easy to navigate, high-performing, and responsive to the needs of employers and learners. The reformed system will focus on fostering innovation, ensuring excellence in training delivery and assessment, prioritising safety, and enhancing the overall quality of training outcomes. Furthermore, it seeks to create an adaptable and skilled workforce capable of withstanding structural changes. By encouraging more employers to utilise nationally recognised training, the reform aims to achieve these ambitious goals.
Addressing stakeholder feedback, a time-limited tripartite Qualifications Reform Design Group is set to be established. This group, comprising members with extensive experience in the VET sector and representation from unions, employers, State/Territory governments, and education experts, will be responsible for drafting new rules for developing units of competency and qualifications by the end of 2023. It marks the first step in a multi-year program aimed at realising the Skills Ministers’ reform agenda. Jobs and Skills Councils will be crucial throughout the process, providing expert advice and leading the transition.
Jobs and Skills Australia Progress
During the meeting, Professor Peter Dawkins, AO, Interim Director of Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA), updated the Skills Ministers on JSA’s work, upcoming priorities, and the 2023-24 work plan developed with tripartite partners. The newly introduced governance arrangements and expanded functions within the Jobs and Skills Australia Amendment Bill 2023 offer an excellent opportunity to provide independent data and analysis on workforce, skills, and training needs to Skills Ministers and the nation.
Strengthening RTO Standards and Supporting VET Workforce Growth
Quality reforms were also discussed during the meeting, particularly concerning Standards for Registered Training Organisations (2015) and the VET Workforce Blueprint. Immediate attention will be given to reinforcing the Fit and Proper Person Requirements under the RTO Standards to ensure integrity in the VET sector. Additionally, possible changes to the RTO Standards, in line with the updated Training and Education Package, will be considered separately to support the expansion of the available VET workforce.
TAFE Centres of Excellence in Focus
Another discussion highlight was the ongoing development of nationally networked TAFE Centres of Excellence. These centres will collaborate with industry, universities, and governments to address critical economic challenges, including the transition to a clean economy, manufacturing and sovereign capability, and care and support, along with other region-specific priorities. Not only will these centres address key skills shortages, but they will also work towards building trust and confidence in the high-quality training sector.
Learn more about the meeting by visiting the published communique.