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O’Connor: “Great opportunities” for Australian workforce

workforce skills shortage needs to be addressed

Federal Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor has addressed the Australian Financial Review Workforce Summit with a focus on Australia’s skills shortage.

The AFR Workforce Summit gathers business leaders, policymakers and industry insiders to discuss the shifts facing workforces and strategies to prepare for the future.

O’Connor was among a host of speakers addressing the need to invest in Australian labour.

“Our transition to net zero means we need hundreds of thousands of tradespeople, engineers, and maintenance workers,” he said.

“We can, and we must, do better, as we look towards the future.”

As mining enters a new era of digitalisation and automation, O’Connor said education and training need to modernise to keep up with the demands of a rapidly developing future.

“The digital transformation of our economy is an area that highlights the need for qualifications to be modernised and flexible, with digitisation forging ahead, sometimes at a speed that feels relentless,” he said.

“And while the rapid nature of the transformation presents great opportunities, it also brings significant challenges.”

O’Connor said the need for ramp up in industry jobs like mining engineering are essential if climate targets are to be reached.

“We are supporting 10,000 new energy apprenticeships through grants of $10,000 and implementing a new energy skills program to develop fit-for-purpose training pathways for new energy industry jobs, in partnership with states and territories, employers and unions.”

O’Connor said up to six TAFE Centres of Excellence are set to be fast-tracked this year with the aim of providing bachelor-level “higher” apprenticeships.

“For too long, we have held onto an idea that the head and the hands need to be separate,” he said.

“TAFE Centres of Excellence will be key to fostering closer engagement between the two tertiary sectors.

“Our skills and training sector is vital for the future of our economy, a time where the labour market is rapidly changing.”

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