Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor has revealed the Commonwealth will offer the states and territories a new 5-year skills agreement that will come with an additional $4.8 billion in funding.
Speaking ahead of Cabinet meeting tomorrow O’Connor told the Australasian VET Research Association Conference that he would announce the proposed agreement later today, boosting the overall Commonwealth investment to $12.8 billion.
O’Connor said: “In the agreement I will be seeking a new collaborative decision-making process between the Commonwealth and states and territories to marshal VET investment towards agreed national priorities and agreed reforms.
“And to ensure our respective efforts come together to be more than the sum of their parts.”
O’Connor said he wanted to enable more Australians, especially those who have been excluded and under-represented in the workforce, to gain the skills needed for secure, well-paid work, and to reach their full potential.
“Importantly this offer includes a further 300,000 Fee Free TAFE and vocational education places.
“I will seek an agreement that puts TAFE at the heart of the VET sector, including by directing at least 70 percent of Commonwealth funding for VET to TAFE.
“I will work with states and territories to support high-quality vocational education, research and innovation.”
O’Connor said he would propose to states and territories establish new centres of excellence in their TAFEs, in partnership with industry, universities and students.
He said: “I hope we can introduce a landmark foundation skills commitment, where every Australian who needs it, can access literacy, language, numeracy, and digital skills – a ‘no wrong door’ approach to accessing the supports that Australians need.
“And in light of the government’s commitment to the Voice and to Closing the Gap, we are seeking in this agreement to deliver a step change in the way we approach skills development for First Nations Australians.”
O’Connor said research and evaluation would be critical to the success of this new agreement.
The proposal builds on the federal government’s creation of Jobs and Skills Australia, and 12-month skills agreements with the states and territories that are adding 180,000 Fee-Free TAFE and vocational training places in 2023.
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