Federal government launches new 'National Workforce Strategy'

Set until 2027, framework aims to provide 'consistent, coordinated' approach to labour issues

Federal government launches new 'National Workforce Strategy'

Through the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the federal government has recently launched the National Workforce Strategy 2022-2027, which seeks to ensure sector-specific workforce plans that would equip Australians to take up available work and remove barriers to participation. It also aims to activate industries to “drive change” and use migration to “complement” the domestic workforce.

The government’s strategy lays out a framework to inform and shape workforce policy development and sector-specific workforce strategies across Commonwealth agencies. According to the department’s media release, it includes five principles for a “more coordinated and consistent” approach to addressing workforce issues:

  • Use data to create transparency of the current and future workforce
  • Equip Australians with in-demand skills and focus employment services on outcomes
  • Remove barriers and disincentives to work
  • Activate industry to design and drive change
  • Target migration to fill skills and labour gaps.

“A world-leading country such as Australia needs a world-leading workforce, and world-leading skills need world-leading training and development systems,” Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business Stuart Robert said in the strategy’s foreword.

“It is clear Australia’s continued prosperity depends on a workforce that has the right skills to meet the demands of both our economy and our community as well as the agility to rise to the opportunities presented by emerging industries,” Robert added.

New measures to address immediate workforce pressures

As part of the government’s initiatives to launch the said strategy, it announced new measures that would address “immediate workforce” pressures, focusing on:

  • mobilising and skilling job seekers to boost the domestic workforce
  • supplementing the domestic labour force with migrants, including better utilising migrants in Australia and doubling the scale of Pacific labour schemes
  • making further investments in the Child Care Subsidy to increase workforce participation

The Workforce Foundations

The strategy mainly targets specific workforce foundations to support the country in building in-demand skills, helping Australians find and keep work, and meeting employers’ workforce needs. The foundations include education; skills and training system; employment services reform; targeted employment and skills programs; and temporary and permanent migration; and

For example, reforms and initiatives in education include support for the higher education sector to “produce job-ready graduates.” The government further plans to pilot new learning models in higher education, such as the Industry 4.0 advanced apprenticeships and women in STEM cadetships. A shift in research commercialisation in Australian universities is also expected.

“The Strategy is built on and delivered using an evidence base. We will use and share data to identify and address workforce shortages and growth opportunities and work with industry to ensure our interventions are genuine solutions,” Robert said.

“The Government is using data to drive decisions— and we’ll be open and transparent about it—however, we also expect states, territories, and industry to do the same,” he said.

“Information sharing will contribute to development and growth whilst informing individual work and career choices. It will help to ensure we can provide our workforce with the right skills, training, and education for career pathways—to fill the right roles, in the right places.”

“That’s why this Strategy is so critical to our success. This is a uniting Strategy, designed to galvanise all Australians to meet the challenges ahead and thrive,” Robert said.

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