A Bill has today been introduced to Parliament establishing the permanent functions and governance arrangements for Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) as the Albanese Government continues to tackle the national skills crisis.
The Jobs and Skills Australia Amendment Bill delivers on a commitment to collaborate and seek wide-reaching advice from tripartite partners.
The Bill will establish a tripartite Ministerial Advisory Board that includes representatives from state and territory governments, unions, employers and experts.
Minister for Skills and Training, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, said, “Advice from the Ministerial Advisory Board will ensure JSA’s guidance to government on current and emerging workforce needs is informed by a wide range of views, insights and expertise.”
The Bill legislates the requirement for JSA to consult with the tripartite Ministerial Advisory Board in the development of its work plan. This will ensure JSA’s work consults widely with stakeholders to address workforce shortages to help build long-term capacity in priority sectors. The Bill specifies the work plan must invite public submissions.
“A lack of skilled workers is one of the biggest economic challenges currently facing Australia and JSA will play a critical role addressing Australia’s current and emerging workforce skills and training needs, Minister O’Connor said.
“A permanently established JSA will develop a work plan to help the Australian Government improve skill development, employment opportunities and economic growth.”
The Australian Government has consulted broadly on the permanent model of JSA, which will conduct labour market analysis in order to ensure we respond to existing and emerging skills demand by investment in appropriate education and training.
“According to the OECD, Australia has the second highest labour supply shortage. If we are to be a productive nation we need expert advice on investing in developing the skills of our nation, which is what JSA will deliver,” Minister O’Connor said.
JSA will take an economy-wide perspective in identifying where skills shortages exist, and project where they are likely to be in the future.
New proposed functions include providing advice on the demand and availability of workers in particular industry and occupations, a greater focus on analysis of regional, rural and remote locations, and supporting decision making in relation to Australia’s Migration Program.
JSA will also conduct studies focused on opportunities to improve employment, VET and higher education outcomes for those who have historically experienced labour market disadvantage and exclusion. Building an evidence base of the impact of various workplace arrangements on economic and social outcomes, and working closely with industry consultative forums such as the Jobs and Skills Councils will strengthen the national evidence base.
Additional changes to JSA’s governance include replacing the JSA Director with a JSA Commissioner, and introducing up to two JSA Deputy Commissioners – all selected through a transparent, merit-based selection process. There will also be a requirement for a statutory review of JSA’s operations to commence within two years of its permanent establishment.
Not only will JSA respond to the current skills crisis, it will lead to more strategic planning and investment in education and training. This will be crucial if we are to:
- See the energy transformation to clean, reliable and affordable power
- Rebuild our manufacturing capability through the National Reconstruction Fund and build the infrastructure our nation needs
- Keep up with rapid technological growth and digital economy
- Support and strengthen the growing care economy and ensure a sustainable health care sector.
- Successfully plan for the significant uplift of skills demand in our Defence industry
“Already Jobs and Skills Australia has begun work on a foundation skills study and worked in partnership with key stakeholders to begin its first capacity study on the clean energy industry,” Minister O’Connor said.
“Part of the clean energy study will look at current skills and their transferability to new occupations. It will look at where tweaks to skills are needed and where new skill development is necessary so that Australians are prepared for the jobs of the future.
“Clean, reliable, and affordable energy is essential to our economic and environmental future. Identifying, building and evolving the skills of our workforce is essential to secure it.
“We are an open, transparent and consultative Government, and this Bill ensures we continue to hear from our partners to ensure JSA’s work addresses current and future workforce needs.