The training system must catch up with the industry

Australia’s need to improve its skills development programs has been described as the “golden thread” of the federal government’s two-day jobs summit.

More than 140 participants from business, labour, community and government sectors gathered for the final day of the summit in Canberra on Friday.

A common emerging theme is the need to improve training and continuing education programs to help qualified people for the future labor market.

The well-paid, high-skilled jobs of today and tomorrow are digital, said Innes Willox, head of the Australian Industry Group.

“We need a national strategy that includes digital capabilities, standards and a framework that supports digital transformation and empowerment of our economy,” he said at the summit.

“Industry knows this, but the education and training system is just catching up.”

Mr Willox described the golden thread running through the top of government as the need to train and develop more Australians.

Attracting more women to the workforce will not just be a matter of taking a few courses, said Jennifer Westacott, director of the Business Council of Australia.

“This is a fundamental premise that the skills system must be designed to address skills gaps and address access issues for women in many sectors,” she said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday that an additional 180,000 free TAFE places would be created by 2023 as part of a major training programme.

But the shortage of teachers in TAFE courses is also a crucial problem to be solved.

TAFE Directors Australia head Jenny Dodd said while the government’s free initiative was helpful, more needed to be done to address the shortages.

“Our biggest challenges are recruiting staff, especially teachers … and accessing practical and clinical placements to increase student numbers,” she said.

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