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Finding solutions to the skills of the future

26 July 20230 comments

The intersection between migration and the vocational and higher education sectors will be key in providing the skills Australia will need into the future, a major conference has heard.

The Director of Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) Professor Peter Dawkins told the ‘No Frills’ conference in Melbourne recently that his organisation had been set up to provide an evidence-based approach to labour market policy.

“We are in the process of creating a National Jobs and Skills Roadmap to provide strategic advice to policy makers,” Prof Dawkins told the conference, hosted by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) and RMIT University.

He said one area of JSA’s research was the clean energy sector.

“We are looking at what the skill needs will be over thirty years as Australia transitions to net zero emissions.” Prof Dawkins said.

“Part of this is to assess the skills needs and shortages and to look at skills outputs from vocational and higher education and how Australia’s migration program also contributes to a solutions.” he said.

“Renewable energy schemes will create demand for new jobs and roles that span the vocational education and training (VET) and higher education boundaries.”

“We will also see new firms that don’t have a culture and we will see a need for new skills that don’t exist yet.”

“Migration will also play a major factor in addressing these issues.” Prof Dawkins said. 

He said that in 2022, 31 per cent of occupations were seeing significant skills shortages with the most common in technology and trades.

The jobs in most short supply were electricians, hairdressers and chefs. And many of the shortages pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof Dawkins said.

“There is evidence emerging of persistent skills shortages in some areas.” he said.

The list of the occupations with the most chronic shortages are: registered nurses, software creators, aged and disability care workers, child care workers, motor mechanics, retail managers, chefs, GPs, metal fitters and machinists.

Prof Dawkins, who was Vice Chancellor of Victoria University between 2011 and 2020, said most of these occupations required VET, rather than professional qualifications.

He said JSA research showed that up to 2026, 53 per cent of jobs would require a bachelor’s degree or higher, 39 per cent would require Certificate II to IV qualifications and 8 per cent would require Certificate I of secondary school qualifications.

Prof Dawkins said advances in technology meant a need to focus on what he called the five C’s of skills needed into the future.

These are: care, cognitive ability, computing, communication and climate.

He said the three areas that particularly would need skilled numbers of workers into the future were the care industry, which would see 28 per cent growth over a decade, management and organisation (32 per cent) and software and computing (27 per cent).

JSA was established in the aftermath of the Jobs and Skills Summit, held in September 2022, to provide evidence-based advice on Australia’s skills needs and the adequacy of the skills system in meeting those needs.