Priority 1. A better skilled, better trained workforce is the main Jobs and Skills Summit priority for career advisors in Western Australia.
(The other priorities are about Migration, Industrial Relations, and Equal Opportunities and yes, I KNOW they are also important!!)
This is my take on the impact of the Immediate Actions for A better skilled, better trained workforce that were identified at the Summit:
180,000 fee free TAFE places across Australia
- 18,000 for WA Roughly 10% of Australia’s population is in WA so that’s roughly 18,000 new free places for WA
- WA VET campuses are already bursting at the seams. We have had new skills sets and fee-free or low-cost courses for the past couple of years. TAFE colleges are bursting at the seams.
- Expect new players in the market. Private RTOs are also splitting at the seams in WA. Expect new players in the VET market.
- Creative Solutions As we are already suffering from a lack of physical spaces on campus, Creative Solutions may include more funding for the Year 9 Taster Program and VET delivered in secondary schools initiatives. I also anticipate more flexible teaching solutions, in the workplace and online.
- Matching industry needs. I heard Jacqui Lambie talking about how Tassie TAFE facilities have become so run-down that they are no longer fit for purpose. That is NOT the case in WA. We have spent millions upgrading our facilities to match current and emerging industry needs.
Legislate Jobs and Skills Australia based on tripartite governance
- Jobs and Skills Australia Jobs and Skills Australia has already been established and is ready to action recommendations from the Summit.
- Tripartite? Tripartite relies on the
- political leadership
- underpinning enabling legislation, and
- the public sector working to make it all happen.
In consultation with all jurisdictions
- Jurisdictions I have already read lobbying from organisations wanting to break down nationally agreed competencies. “Flexibility” could herald “chaos”! I hope customisation within jurisdictions is at the level of micro-credentials ADDED TO a strong framework of nationally accredited courses.
In consultation with stakeholders
- Unions It is anticipated that unions will have a stronger role in the development of jobs and skills through working with the Department. Experienced unionists may have a hand in designing and supporting new training regimes.
- Industry Lobby Groups Organisations already work to influence policy through the Industry Training Councils. There is potential for the Industry Training Councils to have a stronger voice. Powerful representatives of building trades and the resources sector already go directly to government, and they are heard.
- Women If Australia has the most gender-segregated workforce in the Western World, surely WA must be leading in Australia. Before this current skills shortage crisis happened only 3% of traditional male occupations (building, mining, automotive trades) in Australia were filled by women. At the SkillsWest Expo at the end of August, all building and resource industry stands that I saw, were actively recruiting women. (There is a whole Priority based on Equal Opportunity)
- Twitter Managing the demands of powerful lobbyists will be challenging. I have already seen lobbying for priorities on Twitter.
- West Australian Government already knows where skills shortages exist. Our Industry Training Councils provide a conduit for industry intelligence between industry and the Department of Training and Workforce Development. Our State Priority Occupations List is a direct result of the Department listening to the Industry Training Councils’ advice on where they have skills shortages now, and anticipated skills shortages as their industries evolve. That Priority List of courses is what attracts funding for low-cost or free training.
Build long term capacity in priority areas
- Caring Industry Needs Industrial Reform From what I hear, the training and support to carers and health care workers in the VET system range from good to outstanding. There is a shortage of trainers and of workers. Building “long term capacity in priority areas” in these industries will go beyond skills development to industrial relations reform so that the workers get better pay and conditions.
- How to determine “priority areas” I know that the resources and building industries will be putting up their hands to be identified as priority areas. We can leave the minerals in the ground for another year, but we can’t do without health and caring industry workers.
Clean Energy Workforce
- Circular Economy misses the Skills Expo The only circular economy, and clean energy stand at the Expo was Cleanaway Industrial and Waste Services. That will change over the next few years. I recently sat in on a webinar that featured wind turbine maintenance, battery storage design and EV maintenance. Change is coming.
- Agriculture at the Skills Expo This was a big change at the Expo. The need to feed the world population through sustainable agriculture is doing well in Australia. I think we could be a world leader in this field.
There were about 134 people at the Summit. Only 6 from WA and not one of those was an expert in education or training:
- Premier Mark McGowan,
- Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest,
- Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott,
- ARUP (infrastructure) co-chair Kate West,
- UnionsWA’s Carolyn Smith, and
- Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre director Alan Duncan.
Career educators have a significant capacity to transform our future by contributing our expertise for new approaches to creating A better skilled, better trained workforce.
Together we can do great things.