Budget addresses skills shortages

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James Riley

The federal government says its $525.3 million vocational education and training skills package investment delivered as part of the 2019-20 Budget will equip Australians with “better skills”.

“We need to ensure all Australians of all ages have the skills they need for the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said during his Budget speech.

Under the Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package, the government set out plans to establish a National Skills Commission to work with states and territories to deliver a nation-wide approach to skills development, focused on the needs of both students and industry.

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As part of the total investment, $41.7 million over four years would be dedicated to a pilot of skills organisations across the country. According to government, these organisations would develop training packages for skills in high demand, including information and communications technology, advanced manufacturing, and cyber security, and would help to foster links with industry.

In addition, $67.5 million over five years from the current financial year would be spent trialing 10 national training hubs in regional areas with high youth unemployment to create links between schools and local industries that faced skill shortages.

Mr Frydenberg also said a new literacy, language, numeracy and digital skills program would also be established.

The government will dedicate $$62.4 million over four years for the program to help upskill at-risk workers, and to trial four indigenous delivery pilots providing tailored services in remote communities as a way to “refocus the job services model to provide more personalised support for disadvantaged job seekers.”

“Young Australians should have every chance of success when it comes to career opportunities in the digital age,” Mr Frydenberg said.

As part of the 2019 Budget, the Morrison government said it would provide $3.6 million over two years to trial a national Innovation Games that aimed to bring together small and medium businesses and students to solve real-life business issues in relation to innovation, technology, or digital challenges set by a corporate sponsor.

The government has committed that up to 30 games would be held over the two-year trial period.

“This would improve collaboration between businesses and education institutions, and broaden employment prospects for students and graduates,” the government said.

The Budget also included $3.4 million to improve the participation of girls and women in STEM fields, with $1.8 million of this going towards the Science in Australia Gender Equity initiative.

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