National agreement to boost Victoria’s workforce, advanced manufacturing skills

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A national agreement between the Australian and Victorian Governments is paving the way for a significant investment in the state’s vocational education and training (VET) sector.

This landmark five-year National Skills Agreement (NSA) is set to come into effect in January next year, bringing together a comprehensive approach to empower Victoria’s workforce and build essential skills for the future.

Nationally, the Commonwealth has pledged a $12.6 billion investment, including an extra $2.4 billion in flexible funding for state and territory skills sectors.

These funds are aimed at enhancing skills for critical and emerging industries, with a focus on clean energy, Australia’s sovereign capability, including advanced manufacturing skills, national security, food security and construction.

Under the principles outlined by the National Cabinet, the government has committed to invest up to $3.15 billion to expand access to Victoria’s VET sector.

This investment will not only support quality training but also address critical skills needs, bolstering the state’s existing investment of over $4 billion in the sector since 2014.

Victoria is expected to undergo substantial workforce growth over the next five years, making the NSA’s investment in training, infrastructure, and participation initiatives a crucial step forward.

According to the government, this agreement places TAFE institutions at the core of sector reform and includes significant baseline funding commitments.

In addition to these commitments, Victoria will receive an extension of $105 million for the Free TAFE funding arrangements, providing an additional 62,800 Free TAFE places for Victorian students over the next three years. This builds on the Allan Labor Government’s existing Free TAFE commitment, which already enables all Victorians to access tuition-free training across over 80 courses in priority areas, regardless of prior qualifications.

One of the major reforms includes the establishment of nationally networked TAFE Centres of Excellence through partnerships between TAFEs, universities, Jobs and Skills Councils, and industry stakeholders.

A groundbreaking aspect of this agreement is the introduction of a National Stewardship model, which will coordinate skills investment across the country to address national priority areas while allowing states and territories the flexibility to meet local industry skills requirements.

This model marks a significant departure from past short-term, transactional working relationships, ushering in a new era of collaboration across borders and priorities.

Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Skills and Training, expressed his enthusiasm about this historic agreement, highlighting the opportunities it creates for Victorians to equip themselves with skills for high-quality employment.

“By working in partnership with states and territories through a new National Stewardship approach, we are building a system that is greater than the sum of its parts,” the minister noted.

Meanwhile, Victoria’s Minister for Skills and TAFE, Gayle Tierney, emphasised the significance of the agreement, which aligns with the shared national vision for TAFE and skills.

“The Agreement includes crucial measures for Victoria including additional funding for TAFE Centres of Excellence and working together to tackle the skills needs of our fastest growing industries,” Minister Tierney explained.