• Minister for Skills & Training, Brendan O'Connor.
    Minister for Skills & Training, Brendan O'Connor.

Federal Minister for Skills & Training, Brendan O’Connor, outlines recent reforms introduced to address the current skills shortage.

The creation of Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA), and the creation of 10 Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs) are significant milestones in the skills and training portfolio.

Australia is facing one of its biggest economic challenges in decades due to the shortage of skilled workers across many areas of the economy.

OECD data identified Australia as having the second-highest labour shortage amongst OECD countries.

And the Skills Priority List shows that occupations in shortage nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022, jumping from 153 to 286.

In March 2022 the former National Skills Commission predicted that over the next five years, 9 out of 10 new jobs would require post-school qualifications, half of which will require vocational training. 

Australian industries require meaningful engagement and the best possible skills planning framework to deal with skills challenges. 

JSA and the JSCs have industries and experts at the core of their governance and work programs.

Jobs and Skills Australia has replaced the National Skills Commission. 

JSA is required, under the legislation, to have a governance structure that is tripartite and expert. 

In the coming months, I will appoint a Ministerial Advisory Board to inform JSA’s work priorities, strategies and governance. 

Informed by this tripartite and inclusive approach, this month JSA will deliver a national Clean Energy Capacity Study. 

This will outline the employment, upskilling and re-skilling opportunities that the transformation to a net zero economy will create.

JSA has consulted widely and will soon release its 2023-24 Workplan which will focus on the biggest challenges. 

JSA is taking an economy-wide perspective in identifying where skills shortages exist and projecting where they are likely to be in the future.

JSCs will work hand in glove with JSA, providing on-the-ground industry perspective of the real economy. 

They will shift the training pipeline from being slow to react to changes in the economy, to being ready and responsive in shaping skills as jobs transform and supporting the prosperity of the industries they represent.

And JSCs are off to a good start having already built a cohesive network, led by their new CEOs and Boards.

Currently, the average time to develop or update a qualification is 18 months - this is unacceptably long. 

Future qualifications and updating of qualifications will be led and developed by JSCs.

This ambitious plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.