June 26th, 2024

Tackling skills disparities across the country is key to reshape Australia’s skilled workforce: National Skills Week Chair, Brian Wexham


$30 billion National Skills Agreement set to transform the VET sector

Sydney, June 2024 – National Skills Week 2024 is gearing up to spotlight thetransformative role of vocational education and training (VET) in defining Australia’sfuture. Scheduled to run from August 19 to 25, this year’s event will emphasise five key pillars:
 Recognising the significant contributions of women in trades
 Highlighting the importance of indigenous workforce participation
 Addressing the unique challenges faced by remote and regional areas nationwide
 Tackling skills disparities across the country
 Encourage more young Australians to consider VET Pathways
Supported by the federal government, National Skills Week 2024 aims to tackle these challenges and celebrate VET as a game changer for people’s lives in the country and for the resilience and potential of Australia’s workforce. Through a series of events, workshops, and initiatives, the week will champion the importance of VET in fostering inclusive and sustainable economic and community growth.
Minister for Skills and Training the Hon. Brendan O’Connor will launch National Skills Week at a National Press Club address at Parliament House in Canberra on 14 August 2024.

Government announces $30 billion 5-year investment in VET Sector
In January 2024, the Albanese Government unveiled a monumental $30 billion five-year investment plan for the VET sector, marking the launch of the National Skills Agreement (NSA) – an unprecedented agreement between the federal and all state and territory governments.

The Albanese Government also announced around $600 million in measures in the 2024-25 Budget to bolster skills growth and development in the clean energy, construction, and manufacturing sectors. These measures aim to support apprentices and break down barriers for women in male-dominated industries.
Additionally, 300,000 Fee-Free TAFE and VET places are being made available from 2024 to 2026, providing cost of living support for Australians choosing to study in priority skills need areas.
Minister O’Connor highlighted The Universities Accord final report and outlined ideas to increase alignment and collaboration between universities and VET sector, including the creation of an Australian Tertiary Education Commission. “The government is considering its  response to the report, and I look forward to working with the Minister for Education on how to improve tertiary alignment.”
National Skills Week, Chair, Brian Wexham said it is the first time the government has announced an investment of this magnitude; vocational education is a game-changer when it comes to building a skilled workforce for the future.
“By providing individuals with targeted training in areas such as trades, technology, and healthcare, we are not just preparing them for jobs – we are empowering them to thrive in dynamic industries that will drive our economy forward.”
Women and Indigenous Workforce: Driving Australia’s Future
According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, more than 60% of full-time workers are men, while more than 75% of part-time workers are women. While men typically work longer hours, women spend more time on unpaid care and domestic work.
An Analysis conducted by Jobs and Skills Australia in 2023 underscored the gender disparity evident in many skill shortage areas. Occupations with a significant gender imbalance are more vulnerable to shortages compared to those with a more even distribution.
Notably, male-dominated occupations like Machinery Operators and Drivers, Labourers, and Technicians and Trades Workers exemplify this trend. Conversely, female-dominated roles are observed within the Community and Personal Service Workers occupation group.
In regional areas of Australia, recruitment challenges persist, particularly in regions distanced from major population hubs, where employers face heightened difficulties in sourcing qualified staff.
Data from the First Nations Workforce Analysis in 2023 revealed that the number of First Nations People working as Contract, Program, and Project Administrators increased by 42% nationally over the 5 years leading up to 2022. Other occupations witnessing strong First Nations growth included Welfare Support Workers (33%), Aged and Disabled Carers (31%), and Child Carers (22%).
“In the next ten years, 90% of new jobs will require post-secondary qualifications, with 44% of those jobs requiring a VET qualification and around 48% needing a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Australia will need more women and indigenous workers to get into skills careers to ensure our workforce is equipped to meet the demands of tomorrow’s economy and to drive innovation and prosperity for the country,” explains Wexham.

Building Tomorrow: Advancements in Apprenticeships for 2024
In Australia, the issue of students leaving apprenticeships is of significant concern. As shown by the survey report on Non-Completions by Apprenticeship Support Australia, released in March 2024, many apprentices who don’t complete their training remain eager to work. For instance, after leaving their apprenticeship or traineeship, 31% sought another
apprenticeship in the same occupation but with a different employer, while 27% successfully secured full-time employment. These findings underscore a strong determination among apprentices to remain in the workforce, despite facing challenges such as misunderstandings with their supervisors or employers.
Recognising the pivotal role of apprenticeships in skills education, the Australian government also expanded its support for apprentices and trainees in January 2024 by updating the Australian Apprenticeship Priority List (AAPL). This initiative aims to incentivise the recruitment of fresh talent by offering increased financial assistance to apprentices, trainees,
and their employers.
The newly revised list includes new 19 additional occupations, broadening the scope of opportunities available. Among these new added skills are roles such as Flight Attendant, Ambulance Officer, Fire Protection Plumber, Light Technician, Pharmacy Technician, Sound Technician, and more.

Perception of VET Education in Australia
A recent report on the Inquiry into the perceptions and status of vocational education and training, undertaken by the Parliament of Australia in February 2024, highlighted that approximately 51% of all current jobs in the country require a VET qualification.
The report also found that despite the critical importance of VET to Australia’s economic security, many people hold negative perceptions of VET and the careers it leads to. It is often perceived as less intellectually demanding, inferior to university education, and more physically demanding.
“This year’s National Skills Week is about enhancing VET education, dispelling misconceptions and inspiring Australians to explore the boundless opportunities in skilled professions by learning about the life-changing stories of our VET Alumni and Australian Apprentices or Trainees. We hope to inspire people to pursue their own paths to success,” finalises Wexham.
Now in its 14th year, National Skills Week 2024 will comprise of a series of events and activities organised nationwide to celebrate the achievements of women in trades, promote VET and apprenticeship opportunities in remote and regional areas, and showcase the diverse career pathways facilitated by vocational training.

All you need to know about National Skills Week 2024:
When: August 19-25, 2024
Purpose: To raise the status of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector as well as raise awareness and educate parents, school leavers, upskillers and job seekers of the myriads of rewarding, lucrative and prestigious career pathways available through Vocational Education and Training. It’s also designed to highlight the importance of VET to Australia’s economy.

Theme for 2024: VET: It’s a game-changer
VET can literally change your life, VET can be a life-changer, a community-changer, a global-changer

For further information, visit www.nationalskillsweek.com.au
Media Contact:
Manuela Londono Gil | The Capital Group | libby@capital.com.au | 0404790223

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