The 2023 Annual Jobs and Skills Report has revealed the best path forward for Australia’s employment policies.
Drawing on new data surrounding the skills shortages currently impacting most sectors, the report argues that a greater focus needs to be placed on student-centred reform in order to move the economy forward.
Australia’s skills training is in need of student-centred reform to meet the demands of the modern workforce currently coming into the job market
The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the top body focused on independent skills training, higher education and international education providers, believes the best way forward is to focus on supporting students in their search for knowledge and education.
“JSA’s report shows that in order to meet the current skills challenges and the skills needs of the future, we need to improve access to both skills training and higher education for those entering the workforce and those looking to upskill,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive Officer.
But what exactly did the report reveal to evoke this response?
The 2023 Annual Jobs and Skills Report concluded that Australia is experiencing “a tight labour market and extensive skill shortages, as well as significant price inflation and continuing low productivity growth,” all contributing to skewed employment opportunities and support for workers.
An assessment of national occupations found that 36 percent were facing a skills shortage. This was most common for technicians and trades workers, with a total of 50 percent of occupations in this field falling into the national shortage category. In comparison to 2022, an additional 66 occupations were newly in shortage. Interestingly, the report also found that fields with a stronger gender imbalance were also much more likely to be in shortage.
However, it also concluded that the total number of employed Australians will increase by 6.5 percent over the next five years to reach 14.8 million. This highlights the need for a strong educational and skills training system to support these individuals as they head out into the workplace, ensuring employers can source reliable workers while employees have access to more opportunities.
Overall, the report argues for a “more collaborative and evidence-driven approach to delivering high quality, responsive and accessible education and training to boost productivity and support Australians to obtain the skills they need to participate and prosper in the modern economy.”
Best path forward
According to Troy Williams, one way to go about this development and fix the current shortcomings of the skills training and higher education industries, is to focus on developing both independent and public organisations. This initiative will have to come from governing bodies at both a federal and state level.
“Students need to be at the heart of the skills training and higher education systems. To address the challenges identified by Jobs and Skills Australia, governments need to empower students to study with the provider of their choice, one that’s able to help them achieve their life and career goals. Sometimes this will be a quality independent provider and sometimes it will be a public one,” he explains
“We need Australia’s workforce to be supported by a lifelong learning system that enables them to continually develop their skills to meet the needs of a dynamic economy and changing labour market.”
In total, independent Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are responsible for around 89 percent of the 4.5 million students participating in skills training, and 10 percent of the 1.6 million students currently enrolled in higher education. This means they play a large part in supporting learning for Aussies, and so should also play a large part in policies moving forward.
The Jobs and Skills report emphasises how investing in student education will only benefit the Australian labour force and economy in the future.
To learn about another current impact on workplace success, click here.