Unis pitch their skills case

University lobbies used the national skills shortage list yesterday to make their case

The National Skills Commission reports on occupations in demand yesterday included trades and professions both. With the government going hard on expanding trade training peak higher education lobbies seized the opportunity to point out that they meet skill needs locally.

“Many industries would not be able to operate without these workers who start their career journey at Australia’s world-class universities,”  Catriona Jackson from Universities Australia said.

According to the Group of Eight’s Vicki Thomson, “the priority list is alarming in that many of the professions where we have a skills shortage were not evident just two years ago – a situation clearly exacerbated by Covid, closed borders and visa settings.”

Smart politics – the pandemic made plain how exposed Australia is to disruptions in supply chains and encouraged the enduring popular belief that Australia should manufacture its own goods and supply its own expertise in services.

As a way of having a seat for universities at new agency Jobs and Skills Australia’s high policy table such arguments are hard to beat. As Ms Thomson put it,

“the creation of JSA is an important step toward to addressing Australia’s workforce and skills shortage and as such is an opportunity to recalibrate our national workforce planning. Doctors are in as short supply as care workers. Engineers are in as short supply as crane operators.  JSA is a worthy vehicle with which to identify what needs to be done and how to alleviate this issue, one which is building to catastrophic in some sectors.”