Australian economy would benefit from giving tax breaks to employers of apprentices so they can raise their wages

Former Productivity Commission chairman Peter Harris. CREDIT:ANDREW MEARES

Peter Harris who was Australia’s former productivity boss between 2012 and 2019 says the Morrison government is failing to stimulate the economy, productivity has collapsed and wages have stagnated. 

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Getting down to business – strengthening Australia’s vocational education and training sector

The Morrison Government has established its Vocational Education and Training (VET) Stakeholder committee to help drive its significant agenda of reform.

The highly experienced committee was handpicked, to ensure we have the talent and knowledge informing the Government’s skills sector initiatives.

The VET Stakeholder committee has hit the ground running and hosted their inaugural meeting in Canberra last week.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said the Committee will ensure that stakeholder views are understood, considered and included during the implementation of the $525 million Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package.

“Our vision to create a strong VET sector is critical to our economy and to helping prepare Australians for the workforce of today and the future,” Minister Cash said.

“The Morrison Government is committed to creating more than 1.25 million jobs over the next five years and I’m confident that more and more of the people filling these positions will be coming to employers through the VET system.

“We are acutely aware of the workforce requirements in the Australian economy. Our reform agenda will deliver better outcomes for Australians who make the choice to pursue a VET pathway.”

The Committee brings together representatives of business councils, consumer advocates, peak body representatives, registered training organisations, and public, private, community and non-for-profit providers.

“Together we will improve the VET system through collaboration of Commonwealth, state and territory governments, industry and training providers, and shift community perceptions around industry focused training,” Minister Cash said.

“A strong VET sector will support millions of Australians to obtain the skills they need to participate and prosper in the modern economy.”

VET Stakeholder Committee membership

Members will meet monthly through to June 2023.

Organisation Representative Position
Adult Learning Australia Ms Jenny Macaffer CEO
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ms Jenny Lambert Director, Employment Education and Training
Australian Industry Group Ms Megan Lilly Head, Workforce Development
Business Council of Australia Ms Megan Kirchner Head, Tertiary Education
Career Development Association of Australia Ms Wanda Hayes National President
Career Industry Council of Australia Mr David Carney Executive Director
Community Colleges Australia Mr Don Perlgut CEO
Council of Small Business Organisations Australia Mr Peter Strong CEO
Enterprise Registered Training Organisation Association Mr Chris Butler Assistant Director
Family Business Australia Ms Anne-Marie McNally National Product Manager
Foundation for Young Australians Mr Alex Snow Head of Research
Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia Mr Troy Williams CEO
Jobs Australia Ms Debra Cerasa CEO
KPMG Ms Sue Bussell Partner, Workplace Relations Advisory
National Apprentice Employment Network Ms Dianne Dayhew National Executive Director
National Australian Apprenticeships Association Mr Ben Bardon CEO
National Employment Services Association Ms Sally Sinclair CEO
PwC Ms Sarah Caplan Partner, National Skills Lead
TAFE Directors Australia Mr Craig Robertson CEO
/Public Release. View in full here.

Vocational education and training in spotlight at roundtable talks


  • Indonesian-Australian talks will focus on VET in mining and tourism sectors
  • Indonesia is the biggest economy in South-East Asia


Asian Engagement Minister Peter Tinley will participate in roundtable talks today aimed at improving Western Australia’s offering of vocational education and training (VET) in the mining and tourism sector for Indonesia.

The roundtable was jointly organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Canberra; the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Perth; the Indonesian Investment Promotion Centre, Sydney; the Indonesian Trade Promotion Centre, Sydney; and the Australia Indonesia Business Council.

Western Australia already contributes up to 40 per cent of Australia’s total exports to Indonesia. Events such as the Indonesia-Australia Roundtable are key drivers to supporting the upskilling of Indonesia’s workforce through the promotion of VET opportunities.

It is anticipated that the March signing of the long-awaited Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) will come under the spotlight during the roundtable.

The IA-CEPA offers new opportunities for Indonesians to receive training from Australian training providers in both Indonesia and Australia, and to grow the number of Indonesian students seeking to study in Australia.

Indonesian students made up 2.2 per cent (1,121) of WA’s international student population in 2018 – the 16th biggest student population by nationality in the State.

Increasing the number of Indonesian students will help boost the local economy, create jobs and add to the social and cultural vibrancy of the broader community in WA.

As stated by Asian Engagement Minister Peter Tinley:

“Roundtables such as these are vitally important for WA’s VET ties with Indonesia which is already a key regional and global player and forecast to become the world’s fourth biggest economy by 2050.

“Given our special relationship with our nearest Asian neighbour, we need to work harder to improve its current ranking of 16th place in the rankings by nationality of students in WA and encourage more Indonesian students to live and study in Perth.”

As stated by Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery:

“These roundtable discussions help develop important networks and increase VET opportunities in neighbouring countries.

“Encouraging Indonesian students to engage with WA’s education service providers will help boost our economy and create jobs.”

/Public Release. View in full here.

Australia can Follow Finland to Reverse TAFE and Training Crisis

Australia should consider whether it wants a higher education and vocational training system more like that of Finland or more like the USA, according to a new report from The Australia Institute’s Nordic Policy Centre.

The report, co-authored by Professor Andrew Scott, Emeritus Professor Tor Hundloe and Mr Shirley Jackson, shows Australian vocational training is in crisis and explains how the higher education experience of Finland should be used as a blueprint for improving outcomes in Australia.

The report has been released ahead of The Nordic Policy Centre’s roundtable discussion on building an equitable vocational pathway in Australia, which is being hosted by The Embassy of Finland in Canberra and will be attended by business, TAFE and labour union leaders.

Key Findings:

  • Australia is excessively prioritising university education over vocational training and apprenticeships
  • Social and institutional prejudice against vocational education is impacting Australia’s ability to prepare for the labour market of the future
  • Finland has achieved remarkable upward educational mobility with an equitable higher education and training system built on four pillars;
    • Publicly funded education and training
    • Producing highly capable graduates
    • Supporting students financially via social security
    • Debt-free tuition and training
  • Australia should consider adopting these policies and a ‘Youth Guarantee’, which would see every unemployed young Australian offered work, work experience, training or education

“Australia can learn from Finland’s attainment of excellence with equity in its post-school educational institutions,” Professor Andrew Scott said.

“We do not, at present, properly recognise and resource vocational pathways. We have still to break free from the prejudice against ‘vocational’ education as being somehow culturally inferior to ‘academic’ learning.

“Crucial first steps towards improving vocational training outcomes in Australia include restoring proper public funding of TAFE institutes, placing them on a more even cultural footing with universities.

“Finland shows us how to have both high-quality, research-intensive universities and effective vocational training institutions, which should be the ultimate educational goal in Australia.”

/Public Release. View in full here.

This Saturday is chance to restore TAFE funding in Australia

Under the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison government’s TAFE institution across the nation have been under attack.

Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman reminded Queenslanders of their chance to restore training opportunities in Australia as they head to the voting booth on Saturday.

“So far the LNP in Canberra have presided over more than $3 billion in cuts to TAFE and training,” Ms Fentiman said.

:They are no different to the Queensland LNP that cut $82.4 million from the training budget and sacked more than 2100 TAFE Queensland staff, discontinuing TAFE course and closing or selling campuses.”

The impact of these cuts have been highlighted today by the Queensland Audit Report intoEducation: 2017–18 results of audits.

The impact of Commonwealth unfair student loan system and cuts to training programs for 2017-18 alone was over $27 million and included:

  • $18.6 million reduction from students accessing Commonwealth Government VET Student Loans
  • $7.1 million cut from the Commonwealth Adult Migrant English Program; and
  • $1.7 million cut from the Commonwealth Skills for Education and Employment program.

“Saturday’s Federal Election is a chance for State’s like Queensland to gain an ally in the effort to repair and fix this damage,” she said.

“Only Bill Shorten and Labor are prepared to provide Queensland TAFE with its fair share of support.

“Only Federal Labour have promised to review all post school education and training funding and address the unfair student loan system operating for TAFE.

“In addition, only Federal Labor has committed $1 billion dollars in vocational education and training including 100,000 Free TAFE places and $330 million to deliver 150,000 apprenticeship subsidies in areas with skills shortages.”

“Federal Labor is also prepared to work with us on TAFE and has committed $200 million towards helping the states build TAFEs for the future.

“This has included investment in TAFEs at Cairns, Townsville, Logan, Mt Gravatt, Acacia Ridge, Whitsundays, Bowen, Redcliffe AND a new TAFE trades training centre at North Lakes.”

Despite federal funding cuts, with the support of the Palaszczuk Government TAFE Queensland has continued to achieving results

TAFE Queensland continues to be the largest provider of education and training in Queensland, delivering training to over 120,000 students in 2017–18 across more than 530 programs.

“Strengthened by its online and international delivery, no other provider can match TAFE Queensland for scale and location options,” Ms Fentiman said.

“TAFE QLD ensures high quality outcomes for students and employers – more than 85% of students are employed or in further study after completing their course.”

“With a Federal Labor Government partnering with us we can achieve much more.”

/Public Release. View in full here.