Minister Needs To Stop Dumbing Down Skills Advice

Sharon Bird today backed in calls by Peter Noonan, Fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Health, who said in today’s Australian that ‘…independent modelling of demographic and labour market trends was needed to set out what the country needed in terms of higher education and vocational training’.


“In the Abbott Government’s eagerness to remove any traces of good Labor programs and policy, they have acted prematurely by abolishing the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA).  The decision to axe our peak strategic policy and research body on skills was made with no formal announcement, not even a media release,” Sharon Bird said.


AWPA was established in 2012 by the former Labor Government, replacing Skills Australia, to provide expert, independent advice to government on current, emerging and future skills and workforce development needs.  AWPA brought together the peak national bodies such as ACCI, AiGroup and the ACTU to achieve industry leadership.  AWPA also took a tripartite approach to skills and training where industry, training providers and unions had a strong voice.


“I am also deeply concerned about the Minister’s plans to further narrow down his access to advice by completely abolishing Industry Skills Councils. The Minister’s new VET Advisory Board has come out of nowhere, has no training provider or union representation and there is no information available in relation to the establishment, purpose and composition of the Board. The Minister has hand-picked five people at the expense of others with extensive experience in the VET system.


“The Minister needs to stop dumbing down his access to independent advice and start listening to people who have decades of experience in the skills sector,” Sharon Bird concluded.