National Skills Agreement seeks to boosts Australia’s workforce
The Australian government has committed to a substantial investment in the country’s vocational education and training (VET) sector, aiming to bolster the nation’s skills and prosperity.
The five-year National Skills Agreement (NSA), set to take effect in January 2024, will inject A$12.6 billion (US$8 billion) into expanding and transforming access to VET, supporting quality training, and addressing critical skills shortages. When combined with Commonwealth funding, the total investment by governments will surpass A$30 billion (US$19 billion).
A notable first, the NSA will be introducing a new National Stewardship model designed to coordinate strategic investment in skills across the economy. It will facilitate the delivery of skills required for national priority areas while providing States and Territories with the flexibility to meet local industry-specific skill needs.
The agreement also places Technical and Further Education (TAFE) at the heart of the VET sector, with baseline funding commitments and the establishment of nationally networked TAFE Centres of Excellence involving partnerships between TAFEs, universities, Jobs and Skills Councils, and industry.
Key highlights of the A$12.6 billion investment include an additional A$2.4 billion (US$1.5 billion) in flexible funding to bolster the capacity of State and Territory skills sectors. Priorities are set on areas such as clean energy and the net zero transformation of the economy; Australia’s sovereign capability encompassing advanced manufacturing skills, national security, food security, and construction, care and support services; and the enhancement of Australia’s digital and technology capability.
Furthermore, there is an additional A$1.3 billion (US$826.3 million) in Commonwealth funding to implement reforms, including improving VET completions, foundation skills training, and VET data. This investment builds upon an initial commitment of A$414 million (US$263.1 million) for the delivery of 300,000 fee-free TAFE places from 2024.