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COAG ministers face compelling imperative for action

"COAG ministers meeting in Brisbane tomorrow face a compelling imperative for action and need to put aside any differences so that agreement can be reached on national Vocational Education and Training (VET) reform. Skill shortages are escalating, apprenticeship numbers remain disappointing, economic and productivity growth are flagging. Can the importance of tomorrow’s COAG Skills meeting be more obvious?" Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.


"The COAG meeting is considering the National Partnership Agreement between the Commonwealth and the states which determines the future direction of the training system and its funding.

"Now is not the time for the Federal Government and their state counterparts to emphasise points of difference, argue over minutiae or play games of petty politics or one-upmanship. Industry, the education and training sector and the wider community need a national agreement now on how to best lift productivity and fill our emerging skills gaps and needs. A failure to do so will have significant economic and social consequences for decades to come.

"The Prime Minister's announcement of the bring-forward of $3.8Billion in infrastructure spending should focus the minds of the COAG ministers on the scale of the skilling task and its urgency. This infrastructure and projects in the pipeline in the 100s of billions of dollars will require an equally unprecedented effort to deliver the skills industry requires.

"Ai Group research in 2018 identified the growing intensity of skill shortages and skill gaps. The Workforce Development Needs survey found that 75% of employers had difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified or skilled people. The highest shortage occupations are Technicians and Trades Workers and Professionals, all in STEM fields.

"Industry and the broader community are reliant upon a high quality, cohesive, appropriately funded national training system to help boost productivity, to tackle this current and future skilling imperative and to create a greater range of economic and social opportunities for the domestic workforce.

"Ai Group believes that as a priority COAG needs to agree that the establishment of the National Skills Commission is a unique opportunity to elevate national VET reform in the interests of the nation. The commission can provide strategic leadership across the system driving reforms necessary to meet the needs of industry and individuals," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347