Release type: Speech


Launch of the Willyama Cyber Traineeships


The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP
Minister for Skills and Training


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal people, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present.

In this spirit of respect and reconciliation, I am proud of the Albanese Government’s commitment to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.

This Government is committed to ensuring that all Australians, regardless of where they live, or whatever their background, have access to life-changing opportunities.

That they have the education, training and support they need to get a well-paid and secure job to build a future for themselves. 

And for the cyber security sector in particular, which is obviously moving at a rapid pace, we must ensure no one misses out on those opportunities, either.

I think it’s important to keep in mind that cyber security is as much about a knowledgeable and capable population that can spot a scam, as it is about high-end skills to run systems and security.

The highest walls and the thickest doors don’t work if the door is left open or we give the keys to random strangers.

When it was last measured by the OECD in 2012 we found that 3 million adults in Australia were lacking the fundamental skills, including digital literacy, required to participate in training and work.

That’s why I applaud Willyama for putting together this Cyber Traineeship Program. 

This two-year traineeship program will be valuable for 50 people who’ll be placed directly into paid entry-level roles.

It is funded through Round 2 of the Australian Government’s $60 million Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund, overseen by my colleague Ed Husic, Minister for Industry and Science.

This innovative project will help to diversify the cyber security workforce, at a time where we need as many skilled workers as we can get.

As you know, in December, my colleague Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil announced the 2023 to 2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy. 

Growing and sustaining the national cyber workforce is a priority of that Strategy.

Skills shortages are one of the greatest challenges facing our country at this time, and a key focus of the Government. 

The OECD has said that Australia has the second highest labour supply shortage in the developed world. We’ve clearly got to act.

And more recently, Jobs and Skills Australia confirmed in their latest Labour Market Update that ICT Security Specialists, as well as Database and Systems

Administrators, and ICT analysts, remain in the top 20 occupations in demand.[1]

That is why our government wants to support a VET sector that not only gets people into jobs, but on the path to a well-paying career.

The more digitally literate we become, the better off we are as a nation. 

It is imperative if we want to meet our Closing the Gaps targets, we must redouble our efforts.

As we’ve seen in the latest report from the Productivity Commission, we remain on track to increasing the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are employed to 62 per cent.

And of course, while these results are encouraging, we must all do more to improve outcomes for First Nations peoples across a range of targets. 

For instance, we must do more to lift the number of VET qualifications commenced by First Nations students – the latest figures show it is at 37,000 qualifications in 2021, still several thousand below the benchmark levels set in 2016.

Completion rates for First Nations trade apprentices are also 12.5 per cent lower than the national average.

That’s why as part of our Fee-Free TAFE program, we made sure First Nations Australians were a priority group.

Around 180,000 Fee-Free TAFE places will be delivered this year in areas of highest skills need.

We’re also revitalising our Foundation Skills programs to make sure they’re helping First Nations Australians, among other priority groups. 

Our government is committed to putting digital into the mix of ‘foundation skills’ right across the education system.

For those taking on these traineeships, congratulations and good luck.

It is an important first step towards a career in a sector that will only keep growing in the years ahead. 

But you’re helping your family and your community at the same time, while ensuring we build on our cyber security workforce.

Thank you.