National Skills Agreement: overdue but not imminent


The key elements of the next National Skills Agreement were signed off in a Heads of Agreement back in August 2020

The new Agreement was then intended to be signed in August 2021 for commencement in January 2022, focussing on:

* a new funding model that improves national consistency and is linked with efficient pricing

* developing and funding nationally accredited micro-credentials

* providing stronger support for foundation skills

* promoting apprenticeships and undertaking reforms to boost geographic mobility and labour supply

* improving the quality and relevance of VET in schools

* reducing the proliferation of careers information available

* enhancing transparency and accountability through more publicly available data and analysis

* a viable and robust system of public, private and not for profit providers, with contestability in VET markets, and

* increasing real investment in VET.

Although the August deadline has well and truly passed, having previously been involved in these negotiations for the Commonwealth, I was relatively unperturbed.

The priorities for the new Agreement will result in less autonomy for states and territories in the operation of their VET systems, so it was never going to be easy to finalise these negotiations no matter how much extra money the Commonwealth puts on the table.

Two announcements last week though suggest the new Agreement could still be a way off.

The ACT government announced a $17m expansion of JobTrainer places which will roll out later this year. And the Victorian government announced seven more qualifications will be added to the Free TAFE list for 2022.

Meanwhile, VET providers do what they do best: getting on with the work at hand providing high quality training to individuals and working with employers and communities to meet their skill needs; all while looking for improvements to the way the sector operates – as Sally Curtain, CEO of Bendigo Kangan Institute outlines in the latest episode of the ‘What Now? What Next?’ podcast.

Claire Field is the host of ‘What now? What next?’. Her interview with Sally Curtain is out now