Good morning, and thank you for the opportunity to address you here today for your education summit.
It is important to ensure that students can choose the best education path to help them reach their potential and this is a priority for the Turnbull Government.
I congratulate the Minerals Council of Australia on their theme for this year’s summit. How do we recruit students and how do we teach them?
Students, employers, families and the Government all recognise the challenges we face and a stronger economy enables us to invest more in education, training and childcare.
That’s why this month’s Federal Budget outlined investment worth $43.7 billion in 2018-19 to support the Coalition’s plans for Australia’s education and training system. Major announcements included:
• $1.5 billion through the Skilling Australians Fund to increase the number of apprenticeships nationally
• An additional $1.9 billion over 12 years for national research infrastructure, and
• $440 million to extend access for pre-schoolers to 15 hours of early learning each week.
I’d like to begin by focusing on the vocational education and training (VET) sector and the mining industry and how the two intersect.
When it comes to delivering high quality training that aligns with the needs of industry, few nations perform better than Australia. In fact, many countries look to Australia as an example of best practice in the VET Sector.
Therefore, it is extremely important the VET sector delivers on and meets the needs of industry to ensure our country has a skilled workforce for the future.
The mining industry, including Drilling and Civil Infrastructure, makes up one of Australia’s largest industries, employing over 1.1 million people in 2017.
This sector contributed $236.8 billion to the economy in 2016, and saw around 92,000 program enrolments in the Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package (RII) during 2016.
For a sector this large, it’s important we get the training right if we are to support both students and industry. In a very real way, VET is in partnership with industry and the Australian people and can achieve this.
We all know, everyone wants to have the best chance to get ahead in life and everyone wants a career as a means to make a living, to support a family, to be independent.
Industry also wants and needs a skilled workforce. They want the expertise to innovate, to drive change and be on the cutting edge of technological advancements.
VET is able to facilitate both these desires by working in partnership with industry to align training to its needs.
In so doing we equip students with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace, and we provide industry with the workforce they need to prosper.
Attracting students to VET, engaging with industry and ensuring that training courses meet industry needs are keys to a successful system.
A great example of industry and governments working collaboratively in preparing students for mining jobs of the future is the work that Rio Tinto is undertaking with the Western Australian Government and South Metropolitan TAFE.
I was thrilled to learn of this initiative and that Rio Tinto is contributing up to $2 million towards a new curriculum to prepare young West Australians to keep pace with rapid advances in the mining industry, in key areas such as robotics, data analytics and digitalisation.
Arrangements such as these complement the training available through the National Training System, providing a rapid fire response to emerging skills needs and ultimately benefiting students right across Australia.
So a critical question is how do we bring students to VET?
The Australian Government has introduced a number of initiatives to promote VET as a worthwhile pathway to a career.
Late last year, I launched a new, high profile initiative to raise the awareness of VET in Australia.
The strategy is the first step in a long-term approach to address misconceptions about VET, build awareness and improve VET’s status. The aim is to emphasise the opportunities and benefits a VET qualification can provide.
This involves developing a range of communication activities across the VET sector, each carrying the key message of real skills for real careers.
We have also redesigned the MySkills website as a first-stop-shop for VET information. I encourage you to get on board and help us spread the word about VET by using the real skills for real people tagline, and to have a look at the resources developed through the strategy.
Consumers want clear information, tailored to their needs, when making training decisions. Whether they are students, families or career advisors, we want to provide them with consistent and comparable information to help them make the most informed decision about VET pathways.
We want more students to consider undertaking an apprenticeship in the minerals sector. Part of this involves sharing the personal success stories of real people, our Australian VET Alumni.
People like Gemma Hartwig, who was offered a diesel fitting apprenticeship in year 10, and went on to graduate with a Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade (Maintenance – Diesel Fitter) after completing an Australian Apprenticeship.
In 2017, she won the Australian Apprentice of the Year Award at the Australian Training Awards. She is a passionate advocate for VET, and hopes her story will inspire others to consider an apprenticeship pathway.
We need to support industry by attracting more apprentices and trainees to their sectors, this can be achieved through the Skilling Australians Fund.
The Government is committed to growing the number of apprentices in Australia. An estimated $1.5 billion will be committed through the Fund to achieve this goal.
As outlined in the most recent Budget, from 1 July 2018, the Fund will be managed through a new National Partnership Agreement with the states and territories. The Agreement will have a guaranteed funding level and covers four years from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2022.
Under the agreement, states and territories are required to match funding for their projects that support apprentices and trainees across a range of agreed target areas, including occupations in demand and trade apprenticeships.
The success of the Fund is dependent on industry engagement. States are required to engage with, and seek support from, employers and industry.
I am confident that more people will be able to choose and succeed in an apprenticeship pathway, and that more employers will be able to gain the skilled workers they need to drive innovation and growth.
Of course, getting more apprentices into training is only half of the equation. we also need to make sure they have the support they need to succeed.
Through the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) the Australian Government offers up to $190 million each year to support apprentices and their employers.
AASNs deliver advice and support services tailored to the needs of employers and apprentices from pre-commencement right through to completion.
Eleven organisations deliver these services – from around 400 locations nationally, including in regional areas.
We’re also investing $400 million each year into the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program.
The program provides a range of financial incentives and personal benefits to encourage the continued training and development of a highly skilled workforce that supports economic sustainability and competitiveness.
We also provide up to $20,420 as Trade Support Loans to assist with the costs of living and learning while students are undertaking an apprenticeship.
The Turnbull government is supporting students and industry is through the P-TECH pilot. This involves establishing long-term partnerships between industry, schools and tertiary education providers.
The program enables businesses to play an active role in the learning and career development of their future workforce.
It includes mentoring and providing pathways from school to further education, training and employment, including opportunities for employment with the school’s industry partners.
The P-TECH model gives students opportunities to connect and build relationships with industry partners, and engage in hands-on, project-based activities, both at school and in the workplace.
These experiences will help students to make informed decisions about their future careers and pathways.
So, I have provided overview of the range of initiatives we use to attract and support students to VET.
Now we come to how do we teach students.
Of course, Registered Training Organisations deliver training, and they tailor courses to take into account local needs so that students are well placed to get a job.
However, what students learn is determined by you. Industry experts and employers, with a deep understanding of the skills and knowledge needed to perform effectively in the workplace, are responsible for shaping the training products that are delivered.
Strong industry leadership is at the heart of the national training system. Industry is best-placed to know what is needed in training packages to ensure that training is up-to-date, relevant and responds to the evolving needs of employers and the economy.
The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) and its network of Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) gives industry a leading role in the national training system. The Committee approves national training packages for implementation and gives an industry perspective on VET policy to governments.
Nationally recognised training gives graduates the confidence their qualifications are recognised by businesses across Australia, giving them real skills for real jobs.
As industry and employers, you too benefit from having access to a workforce that is trained to meet nationally recognised standards.
It doesn’t matter where a student trained, their VET qualification means they meet the skills standards of your industry, whichever state or territory your business is located in.
You as an employer can be confident of this because it is industry that determines the content of the National Training System.
Students and employers also benefit from the flexibility of the National Training System and the variety of VET training pathways that are available. Students can choose to complete whole qualifications or if they need to upskill or re-skill they can complete a nationally recognised skillset in a shorter timeframe. Statements of Attainment for completing units of competency are also on offer.
The AISC draws on advice from its network of 64 IRCs to make sure VET qualifications and skillsets are fit for industry.
These IRCs consist of people with experience, skills and knowledge of their particular industry sector. They consult widely with employers, employee representatives and representative bodies in their industry to determine the skills needed. Commonwealth funded Skills Service Organisations, provide the professional services to IRCs to write the Units of Competency for the National Training System.
I am pleased the Minerals Council of Australia is represented on the Coal Mining IRC and Metalliferous Mining IRC. I thank those of you who have been involved in consultations on training packages. For those who haven’t been involved, I encourage you to do so. Your expertise and advice will help to ensure students graduate from training with an up to date qualification and relevant skills to help your business.
As well as the Coal Mining IRC and Metalliferous Mining IRC, there are three other IRCs serving your industry – the Drilling IRC, the Civil Infrastructure IRC and the Extractive Industries (Quarrying) IRC.
If you see a skills gap in your workforce I urge you to contact your IRC, or the SSO responsible for serving your IRC, PwC’s Skills for Australia. Philip Le Feuvre from PwC’s Skills for Australia is here with us today. You can find details about the work of the AISC and its network of IRCs, including contact details and training package development work that is underway, by looking on the AISC website.
Ongoing involvement by the minerals sector in training package development will ensure the VET system remains flexible and responsive to the changing economy, technology and the way we work.
This partnership keeps industry, students and those already working in the minerals sector prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead.
As part of keeping our training packages up to date, each year IRCs produce an Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work for the AISC.
The forecast gathers industry intelligence to understand trends that are shaping the skills priorities for your sector and helps determine whether there is a need to update training packages.
This year the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure Industry Skills Forecast identified key trends shaping the industry. These include:
• increased urbanisation in Asia driving industry growth opportunities
• greater demand for Australian resources overseas
• significant growth due to investment in Australian infrastructure projects
• environmental issues, including changes to policy and regulation by state and federal governments, as well as the development of renewable energies, especially in Asia, and
• increasing automation and the development of new software programs which will require the minerals sector to continue to embrace automated technology.
Industry and governments will continue to work together to ensure students and workers have the capabilities necessary to flourish in the future workplace. Skills priorities identified by industry for the sector include:
• analytical skills – so that workers can understand the key factors driving value in their business
• management and supervisory skills – to keep workers focused and motivated, and to identify areas where improvements can be made, and
• digital technology and software skills – to assist workers to remain competitive and operate at peak productivity.
One of the strengths of giving industry a leading role in VET is that the AISC can look across the national training system to identify trends and cross industry skills needs. The AISC has commissioned nine projects to meet the emerging skills needs that are common across industries.
These include areas of automation, big data, digital skills, cyber security, supply chains, consumer engagement through social media, environmental sustainability, teamwork and communication, and inclusion of people with a disability.
I understand the Metalliferous Mining IRC is also providing input into how we can improve work and study outcomes for people with disability.
And the Coal Mining and Drilling IRC is involved with the automation project, while Civil Infrastructure is contributing to the big data, teamwork and communication and environmental sustainability projects.
It’s fabulous to see different industry sectors collaborating on common skills needs and getting behind these innovative projects.
I hope I’ve gone some way today towards highlighting the close working relationship between government and industry when it comes to VET.
We have a sector that is responsive and adaptive, one that is able to modify its training practices as needed.
Through close collaboration, we are able to make sure that training packages are fit for industry and that our workforce is ready to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.
I would like to wish you the best of luck for the remainder of your summit.
I am sure you will have productive discussions.