August 14th, 2020


Shining a light on skills is more important than ever before as we navigate the health and economic challenges presented by COVID-19. The jobs and skills needed as we come out of the crisis aren’t likely to be the same as those that have been lost.

National Skills Week will once again highlight the many opportunities vocational education and training (VET) can provide Australians seeking to upskill or reskill.

The VET sector will be critical to getting people into jobs, and meeting employers’ skills needs.

The Morrison Government recognises that boosting the skilled capability of our workforce is critical to kickstarting the national economy and ensuring our future prosperity.

Supporting skills and training in response to the pandemic has been a priority of the Government. We have invested $2.8 billion in support to keep tens of thousands of apprentices in jobs across Australia, established a new $1 billion JobTrainer Fund to support more than 340,000 training places, and co-funded an $80 million investment with the states in critical infection control training. We have also provided important fee relief for our training providers and the VET regulator has worked cooperatively with the sector to ensure training can continue to be delivered throughout the crisis.

Building capacity in our training system is vital as Australians seek new employment and the  $1 billion JobTrainer Fund will help school leavers and job seekers access pre-apprenticeships, short courses and full qualifications to develop new skills in growth sectors and create a pathway to more qualifications.

Courses will be free or low cost in areas of identified need, with the Federal Government providing $500 million with matched contributions from State and Territory Governments.

The Support for Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy for small businesses that commenced in April 2020 has to date[1] supported more than 83,000 apprentices and assisted almost 48,000 businesses. We have expanded and extended this support to medium sized businesses and now the wage subsidy will extend to almost 90,000 businesses employing around 180,000 apprentices and trainees throughout Australia

Eligible businesses with 199 employees or less who employ an apprentice or trainee in place on 1 July 2020. The subsidy will also be extended by six months to cover wages paid up to 31 March 2021.

These measures will be pivotal to ensure more Australians have the chance to reskill or upskill to fill the jobs on the other side of this crisis.

It is vital to ensure Australians are learning the skills that are needed in the labour market.

The recently-established National Skills Commission, will lead the charge by providing independent expert advice and national leadership on current and future skills needs and workforce development.

Working with the National Careers Institute, the Commission’s focus is on transforming the millions of career and training choices made by students and workers in Australia every year.

This includes the innovative use of new data sources and advanced data analytic techniques to provide accurate and comprehensive data on jobs and skills gaps.

Better skills analysis will allow education providers to offer VET courses tailored to the current and future workforce needs of employers.

Students can then gain highly relevant qualifications leading to rewarding and sustainable jobs.

In addition to this, the Morrison Government is continuing to roll out the $585 million Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package so that employers and students have access to the VET courses and information they need during this critical time.

National Skills Week is a great way to underscore the many education and training opportunities on offer right now for Australians looking to upskill or reskill for work.

This National Skills Week I encourage you to reflect on what we each can do as individuals to improve our own skills and qualifications, or as businesses to improve the skills of our employees, so we are well positioned to take advantage of future opportunities.

Senator Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business



[1] As at 17 July 2020

Subscribe for updates from National Skills Week!