The skills and training needs of industry and business in the regions will be top of mind of the new National Skills Commission with legislation passed in the Senate.
The National Party this week moved an amendment to the National Skills Commissioner Bill 2020 ensuring specific focus on regions including improved access, opportunity, skills development and choice for regional, rural, remote Australia.
The Nationals Senate team states the regions, where much of industry is based, will play a lead role in Australia’s recovery post COVID-19 and beyond.
“Feedback from industry to the government and on the ground has been a need to attract skilled labour and talent as it recovers from the crisis and reinforces its competitiveness,” Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said.
“Having held roundtables with food processors and manufacturers based in our regions recently, these workforce issues were regarded as a high priority. That is, more needs to be done in the vocational education and training sectors for advanced skills and quality of courses, and the need to make industries like manufacturing and food processing an attractive career.”
The National Skills Commission will help do this, as part of the Liberal and Nationals government’s broader $585 million Skills package. Benefits to the regions include:
- An independent and trusted source of data and expert advice on labour market trends, current and future skills demand and workforce development.
- The National Career Institute, which will make this information available to students on where the jobs are and what skills they need to get them moving quickly from learning to earning.
- And cutting through the complexity of the Vocational Education and Training sector to make VET work more effectively, in the delivery of high quality and relevant skills training.
The Nationals Senate team notes data that shows students from the regions are more likely to pursue further vocational education and training, with almost 1.2 million VET students living in remote, rural and regional Australia.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our young people, and those seeking to reskill or upskill, and it’s happening right here in regional Australia. Not just in manufacturing but across other industries – even the more traditional such as agriculture, fishing, forestry and mining – as they embrace technology and innovation to stay strong and sustainable into the future,” Senator McKenzie added.
Nationals Senator for Northern Territory Sam McMahon welcomed the data that also shows vocational education and training outcomes improve the more remote students are based.
“With the National Skills Commission’s focus on skills and training needs in remote, rural and regional areas, I look forward to working with it to ensure our Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities make the most of these training and employment opportunities,” she said.
Nationals Senator for NSW Perin Davey said regional and rural jobs are left unfilled because the skills required aren’t available locally.
“In so many regional areas the problem is less underemployment and more about skills gaps.
“That is why we need to ensure the skills gaps are identified in rural, regional and remote communities and education, training and development opportunities established to fill them.”
Nationals Senator for Queensland Matt Canavan said: “If the COVID pandemic has shown us anything, it’s the need to ensure we have a strong, local manufacturing industry here in Australia, and key to that is a strong training sector.
“Areas like central Queensland are already a hub for the mining services industry, and the NSC’s regional focus will ensure those workers are trained locally, live locally and support their local economy.”
Nationals Senator for Queensland Susan McDonald adds: “Many students in regional and remote areas have their sights set on careers that don’t require a university degree. VET is crucial to giving them the hands-on education and training they need to kick off their careers.
“Regional areas are built on agriculture and industry and these sectors need the critical skill sets of boilermakers, diesel fitters, ringers, butchers, truck drivers and other qualified trades. Without a strong VET program, young people in the regions are definitely worse off, and Australia is worse off.”