Minister's foreword

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Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

The nature of work in Australia is changing and the skills an employer requires in an employee today are fundamentally different to what they looked for a decade ago.

Australia’s capacity to grow, compete and thrive in a global economy has become dependent on employers and individuals being able to access and use the right skills at the right time. Now more than ever, Australia needs a trusted training system that can deliver workers with high quality, relevant skills that can support rapid upskilling and reskilling in growth areas.

The National Skills Commission (NSC) is a critical new part of Australia’s economic infrastructure, providing expert advice and national leadership on the Australian labour market, current and future skills needs and workforce development issues.

As we deal with COVID-19 and the impact on the economy, now more than ever, we need to understand what is happening in the labour market, the structural shifts that will occur and the skilling and re-training needed to get people into jobs.

The NSC, led by our Interim Commissioner Adam Boyton, is working to ensure we are properly targeting areas of need in our economy through contemporary labour market forecasting and engaging with industry. Reliable labour market forecasting will help us to provide a pipeline of skilled workers for industry and ensure national labour market priorities are met, including from developing technologies.

The Government recognises the critical importance of vocational education and training (VET) to meet the changing needs of Australia’s modern economy. The NSC’s research and analysis draws on current and emerging data sources as well as cutting-edge analytic techniques to ensure Australia’s labour market analysis capability is high quality and drives a more responsive and modern VET sector.

This work will provide long-term benefits for employers, students and workers, by providing independent expert advice and national leadership on the state of the Australian labour market, current and future skills needs and workforce development.

Skills are fast becoming the new currency of labour market activity, able to provide employers, workers, students and policymakers with a wealth of useful guidance.

Detailed and timely skills analysis and information has the potential to allow education providers to offer VET courses better tailored to the current and future workforce needs of employers, with students then gaining highly relevant qualifications leading to rewarding and sustainable careers.

Data from the NSC will also ensure our National Careers Institute is able to provide students with the most accurate and comprehensive data on where jobs will be and what skills and qualifications they need to get them. It will help close skills gaps and provide confidence to employers, students, tertiary educators and Australian governments that we are investing in the right skills at the right time. This is essential to prepare Australians for the workforce opportunities of today and tomorrow.

The NSC is an exciting and substantial addition to Australia’s economic infrastructure. After we complete our reform journey, Australians will be assured in their own skills journey. The innovative use of new data sources and advanced data analytic techniques will support the NSC in being a trusted source of sophisticated labour market information, analysis and forecasting.

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business