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National Skills Week showcases Australia's industry strengths

21 August 2014

Reforms that strengthen and streamline the vocational education and training (VET) sector are essential to ensure Australia has access to the highly skilled and productive workers needed to boost our international competitiveness and allow Australia to take advantage of changing global markets.

Launching National Skills Week in Brisbane today, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said growth and opportunities in the industries of the future would rely heavily on ensuring Australia’s skills and training system was industry-focussed and industry-led to deliver the skills apprentices, trainees and students need to get a job.

“The vocational education and training sector is a crucial plank in our economy because it supports the skilled and productive workers Australia relies upon across a range of industries. The VET sector will be even more important as Australia builds an economic base that is diversified, flexible and dynamic and can support the transformation of existing industries and the growth of new industries,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Our best opportunities will be in high value-added, knowledge-intensive industries in areas where we are already well-placed and where global growth prospects are high.

“As Australia transitions to new industries of the future, the most important asset will be access to a skilled and productive workforce.

“We want young Australians to aspire to be among the skilled workers of the future who create and strengthen our Australian identity as a vibrant and skilled nation.

“We want graduates to wear their qualification as a badge of honour because vocational education and acquiring a trade are on par with a university degree.

“A VET qualification can help young and aspiring Australian workers to get the best possible start to their careers.

“However, to deliver the skilled workforce that Australia needs to capitalise on our strengths we have to unwind inefficiencies and cut red tape.

“Training must be completed for the sake of a real job.  The era of training for training’s sake must end.

“The Australian Government’s reform agenda represents the first time in a long time that we have taken a long hard look at all aspects of the VET system.

“We will be looking at the system as a whole to take account of its diversity and make sure that any changes achieve a stronger role for industry, better training and employment outcomes for students and simpler systems with less red tape.”

Delivering these reforms by working with the VET sector has been one of the Government’s top priorities.  Reforms underway include the establishment of a $476 million Industry Skills Fund providing up to 200,000 training places and support services, the introduction of Trade Support Loans, improved VET FEE-HELP arrangements and new provider and regulator standards due to come into effect on January 1.

This financial year, the Commonwealth will spend about $1.4 billion on its own training programmes and provide $1.8 billion to the States and Territories for VET programmes.

Media Contact: Mr Macfarlane's office 02 6277 7070