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New Ai Group Centre for Education and Training calls for urgent action on skills

The national employer association Ai Group today launched its new Centre for Education and Training (CET), which is a new research and advocacy body designed to better connect skills development with the needs of industry and the community.

To launch the new Centre Ai Group released its latest research to stimulate discussion around a number of key considerations intended to lead to further action on Australia's skills needs.

The Federal Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, formally launched the Centre in Melbourne today (28 April).

Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said: "Our economy is changing at a fast rate and outpacing the ability of our education and training system to deliver the skills industry needs. The new Centre will help industry navigate this new world and create stronger links between education and learning, and the rapidly changing skills needs of industry," Mr Willox said.

The Centre's Executive Director, Megan Lilly, said: "The Centre will bring together the most innovative thinkers in skills, education and training and build on Ai Group's more than 140 years of deep engagement with industry. It will be a powerful and credible advocate for policy outcomes that address the current and emerging needs of employers and the career aspirations of individuals.

Coinciding with the launch of the Centre, Ai Group released its latest report: Skills Urgency – Transforming Australia's workplaces.

The report is based on fresh research and informed by a survey of Ai Group member companies in late 2020 at the peak of the pandemic.

Mr Willox said: "The report is intended to be a thought starter for encouraging change around skills in Australia and stimulating discussion around a number of key considerations including:

  • A cocktail of factors is converging to create an urgency to skills formation and development.
  • Australia is not rated by the World Economic Forum as one of the best placed countries for tertiary education to deliver what employers need.
  • Research on the changing workplace is showing that the nature of work is evolving. It speculates that the way people work is changing in an unprecedented way.
  • Skills development needs a different approach for the future: where learning is not separate from doing; where we immerse learning in work environments.
  • Strains on companies evident from a skill needs survey Ai Group undertook late in 2020 show:
    - technicians and trades workers are re-emerging as the most difficult roles to fill.
    - basic digital skills are needed the most out of all digital skills.
    - an increased demand for soft skills.
    - an increased commitment to taking on apprentices.
    - a positive attitude and soft skills are the most important entry level recruiting factors.
    - wage subsidies are needed for many employers to take on displaced workers and young people.
    - employers would take on more university or TAFE students as higher apprentices, cadets or interns to increase their skill levels as their business needs change.
  • It is important to share and learn from real life stories of employers taking action and demonstrating their commitment to build skills in their organisations. This report shares some varied initiatives.
  • Skills urgency is pointing to the need for new responses, new support and upscaled collaborations across Australia's broad skill ecosystem.
  • Future-focused education and training delivered with, and in, industry should be our overall goal. More intensified action must help to establish:
    - new templates for partnerships across the skill eco-system
    - broad digital skills development integrating human capabilities
    - a re-imagined apprenticeship system
    - work-based learning as a core principle in qualifications and
    - flexible qualifications allowing short form training."

The full report is available at this link: 
Skills Urgency – Transforming Australia's workplaces  

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347

Ai Group’s Centre for Education and Training is a new research and advocacy body designed to better connect skills development with the needs of industry and the community.
The Centre will drive an education and training policy agenda that will help ensure that Australia’s skills development outcomes are in line with current and emerging economic priorities and the career aspirations of individuals.
The Centre will give Ai Group members a leadership role in influencing education and training policy informed by workplace needs across Australia and internationally.
The centre will champion bold, innovative thinking on behalf of industry and create new education and training models for contemporary needs