Commissioner’s foreword

State of Australia’s Skills 2021: now and into the future

Commissioner’s foreword

Although COVID-19 appears likely to affect us for some time yet, Australia’s labour market has emerged from the initial impacts of the pandemic in a robust fashion. The expected decline in the unemployment rate (as reflected in the 2021-22 Budget forecasts) points to a tightening in labour market conditions over the period ahead.

This means the focus must shift from the immediate task of getting the unemployed back to work to ensuring our education and skills system delivers the skills and knowledge that the economy is likely to need. It also means recognising what can, and what can’t be forecast – especially as we look further and further into the future. And it means building resilience into our education and skills system – resilience to the inherent uncertainty involved in estimating the economy’s future skills needs.

Although much of the focus of the National Skills Commission (NSC) has been on supporting reform of the VET system, this report takes as its subject the whole labour market. As a result, the term ‘skills’ should be read in its broadest possible meaning.

The state of Australia’s skills 2021: now and into the future finds Australia has managed well the structural changes that have occurred in the labour market over the past few decades. The report offers a series of markers to help influence and inform the development of Australia’s education and skills system over the years ahead.

The report does not offer a series of recommendations into what should, or should not, be taught across the education and skills system. Rather it examines the economy’s current skills needs, those that are emerging, and the broader trends we can expect to see. The report also examines how well matched the broad supply and demand of skills across the economy is. Ultimately, better matching of supply and demand for skills will make it easier for Australians to get jobs and for businesses to get the workforce they need. This is one of the foundations of a strong, productive economy.

In this report the NSC seeks to help shape Australia’s future workforce to deliver that strong, productive economy.

Adam Boyton
National Skills Commissioner