Federal Budget 2019 addresses skills shortages
The government has announced a $525.3 million Skills Package that will reform the vocational education and training (VET) sector and support up to 80,000 additional apprenticeships over five years.
Announced as part of the 2019–20 Budget, it ensures Australians develop the necessary skills to succeed in a changing workplace and provides businesses with a pipeline of qualified workers.
A $156.3 million Additional Identified Skills Shortage (AISS) payment will boost the supply of skilled workers in occupations experiencing national skills shortages. Eligible apprentices will receive $1000 after 12 months and $1000 at the completion of their apprenticeship, while employers will receive a $4000 incentive. This is on top of any payments they are eligible for under existing programs.
The government will also invest $44 million to simplify and streamline employer incentive payments, reducing the number of payment categories from 31 to 14. It also plans to review the National Skills Needs List that underpins apprenticeships incentives.
Incentives for Australian Apprenticeships payments will commence 1 July 2020, and those claiming incentives for an apprentice or trainee who commenced prior to 1 July 2020 will continue to receive payments under the old payment structure.
The skills package responds to a review into Australia’s VET sector, led by former New Zealand MP Steven Joyce, and the government said it “takes important steps towards longer term funding and governance reforms to help ensure that the VET system is responsive, respected and flexible into the future”.
This includes investing $48.3 million to establish a National Skills Commission and National Skills Commissioner to put industry at the forefront of national leadership on workforce needs and VET funding.
Joyce’s review also identified the need for clearer and more reliable career information to support Australians to make education and career decisions, which is why a $42.4 million investment will establish a National Careers Institute and appoint a National Careers Ambassador.
Over three years, the government plans to pilot 10 Industry Training Hubs across Australia that will provide career advice and mentoring to year 11 and 12 students. Backed by a $67.5 million investment, the hubs will create better links between industry and schools in regions with high youth unemployment.
Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Senator Michaelia Cash said the package “provides clear and reliable careers guidance to inform study choices, provides foundational skills so no-one is left behind and will get more apprentices in jobs in areas of demand”.
“These significant investments by the Liberal National Government are a significant part of our economic plan that will see 1.25 million jobs created over the next five years.”
Australian Resources and Energy Group AMMA welcomed increased funding for VET, stating it will benefit those in the energy industry.
“Resources and energy employers are proud to see record earnings from our industry have delivered a $20 billion boost to the 2019 Federal Budget, as well as contributed about 20% of all company tax revenues,” said Tara Diamond, AMMA’s Director Operations.
She said more investment is required to support further earnings growth, and highlighted the importance of investing in the skills of the future for a globally competitive Australian resources and energy industry.
“It is an exciting time for those considering a career in the resources and energy industry, with rapid advancements in technology creating new and more diverse employment opportunities.
“However, many of these opportunities will demand higher levels of technical skills and expertise, which will demand more from Australia’s VET and tertiary education sectors. The government’s decision to establish a National Skills Commission will greatly assist in driving necessary reforms.
“Greater strategic coordination of curriculum and pathways across these education spheres will help unleash significant opportunities for Australian employees, employers and all those regional communities and small businesses that rely on a thriving national resources and energy industry,” Diamond said.
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