National Cabinet signs off on National Skills Agreement with benefits to ECEC expected
First Ministers convening at the latest National Cabinet meeting have endorsed a new National Skills Agreement that will support a shared skills reform agenda that drives improved outcomes nationally, while recognising each state and territory’s unique circumstances and VET systems.
The agreement marks a new stewardship model that is expected to coordinate strategic investment in skills across the economy, and support delivery of skills needed in national priority areas.
With the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector highlighted as a sector experiencing skills shortages this new agreement will likely see added emphasis on fostering additional workforce growth in the ECEC space.
The Commonwealth Government has signaled it is prepared to invest $12.6 billion to expand and transform access to the VET sector, support quality training and implement reforms to address critical skills needs.
If States and Territories access all the Commonwealth funding available under the NSA, the combined investment by governments would exceed $30 billion.
TAFE to be at heart of targeted VET sector investments
Expectations are that a major reform of the VET sector is due and will include the establishment of nationally networked TAFE Centres of Excellence involving partnerships between TAFEs, universities, Jobs and Skills Councils and industry.
A substantial tranche of investment will go towards resetting VET across Australia including:
- $325 million to establish nationally networked TAFE Centres of Excellence and strengthen collaboration between TAFEs, universities and industry
- $100 million to support, grow and retain a quality VET workforce
- $155 million to establish a National TAFE leadership Network to promote cutting edge curriculum
- $214 million for Closing the Gap initiatives to be designed in partnership with First Nations peoples and led by them
- $250 million to improve VET completions including women and others who face completion challenges
- $142 million to improve foundation skills training capacity, quality and accessibility
- $116 million to improve VET evidence and data.
The new National Stewardship approach will provide a framework for cooperation across state borders and across national and State and Territory priorities and is expected to lead to more effective channeling of funding.
Free TAFE remains on the agenda after Ministers recommit
First Ministers also recommitted to fee-free TAFE after having delivered almost 215,000 places in the first six months of this year with the Commonwealth and states and territories partnering to make a further 300,000 TAFE and VET places fee-free from January next year.
“This important National Skills Agreement, alongside our very successful Fee-Free TAFE places, will mean more boilermakers, more chefs, more aged care workers, more child care workers, and more Australians with the skills that they need, but also the skills that our economy needs,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.
“Baseline funding for TAFE means certainty, and the ability to plan with confidence to meet a host of new opportunities across emerging industries and priority occupations,” Chief Executive Officer of TAFE Directors Australia Jenny Dodd, said
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