The National Skills Agreement promised $3.7 billion if states reached a deal

Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor will seek a new five-year, $3.7 billion deal with states and territories to reform the vocational education sector, as part of a plan to longer term to address the country’s skills shortage crisis.

The new National Skills Agreement is the next step in the Federal Government’s ambitions for the VET sector after securing a one-year deal for an additional 180,000 free TAFE places at the Jobs Summit last week.

Skills Minister Brendan O’ConnorCredit:James Brickwood

O’Connor said he has agreement in principle from his state and territory counterparts that the skills sector needs reform, and the federal government is prepared to provide $3.7 billion over a five-year period to conclude the agreement, which would start from January 1. , 2024.

“That’s certainly the amount we hope to be able to provide…but it’s predicated on an agreement with the states and territories to ensure that we have the reforms in place so that they are relevant to students, current workers and the job market. O’Connor told ABC Insiders.

The $3.7 billion funding package is the same amount that was on the table under the Morrison government, which failed to reach a national skills accord after negotiations with the states and territories. In April, the Australian Financial Review Labor states’ skills ministers reported accusing then federal minister Stuart Robert of failing ‘constantly and repeatedly’ to address their concerns.

A national cabinet meeting last week agreed on six principles to underpin the skills negotiations, which endorsed the view that TAFE was ‘at the heart of the VET sector’ and the new deal should involve ‘the upgrading TAFE facilities, prioritizing wraparound supports for priority groups, supporting a quality teaching workforce, and strengthening collaboration with industry and unions.”


O’Connor also announced on Sunday that the VET system would be overhauled to make it easier to navigate the qualifications system, saying significant duplication of course material in the sector has meant students have to undergo additional training that duplicates skills they have already learned.

There are currently 5,000 units that overlap more than 70% with at least one other unit.

Valerie J. Wallis