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NSW skills agreement, and Peter Dawkins to head JSA

Manufacturing News

The federal and NSW Governments have signed a 12-month Skills Agreement to address the current skills shortage and deliver Fee Free TAFE and more vocational education places in the state.

The $319 million agreement will deliver a significant boost to the NSW skills and training sector, supporting approximately 120,000 Fee Free TAFE and vocational education and training (VET) places in 2023.

The course list will see approximately 40,200 fee-free places in the care sector (including approximately 10,000 in the Early Childhood Education and Care sector), 9,900 in technology and digital, 6,900 in agriculture, 5,200 in construction, 5,000 in hospitality and tourism, 1,200 in sovereign capability, and 51,400 in other priority sectors including foundation skills.

At the same time the federal government announced that Professor Peter Dawkins AO (pictured), Emeritus Professor of Economics at Victoria University, had been appointed as the Interim Director of Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA).

The NSW agreement will increase opportunities and workforce participation of priority groups, including First Nations Australians, young people (17-24), people out of work or receiving income support, unpaid carers, women undertaking study in non-traditional fields, people with disability and certain categories of visa holders.

The 12-month Skills Agreement confirms TAFE’s central role in the VET sector, increases opportunities and workforce participation of priority groups and addressing skills gaps in the economy.

The Agreement includes an Australian Government commitment of $1.32 million for essential VET data infrastructure reform in NSW and $7.5 million from the Australian Government’s TAFE Technology Fund to improve training facilities in NSW.

The $7.5 million commitment from the TAFE Technology Fund will upgrade essential infrastructure for training at TAFE NSW campuses.

NSW Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said: “This additional investment in fee-free training places will target priority industries and help address skills and labour shortages that are hampering businesses across NSW.

“I welcome the Australian Government’s investment in this space and look forward to continuing to work together to strengthen the pipeline of skilled workers in NSW.”

Meanwhile the appointment of Professor Dawkins AO to lead Jobs and Skills Australia was announced by Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor.

The former Vice-Chancellor and President of the dual-sector Victoria University will take on the critical role of establishing the functions and preparing the foundations of JSA.

O’Connor said: “Professor Dawkins is eminently qualified, knowledgeable and experienced to take on this important role and I congratulate him on his appointment.

“He shares our passion for the power of education and training to transform lives, and I welcome his extensive knowledge of labour market economics to lead Jobs and Skills Australia.

“It comes as Australia faces one of its biggest economic challenges in decades – a lack of skilled workers across the labour market.”

Professor Dawkins will be Interim Director while the Australian Government consults on JSA’s final model and carries out an open selection process for JSA’s permanent leadership, following the introduction of legislation in early 2023.

Picture: Victoria University/Professor Peter Dawkins

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