Principle 4: Activate industry to design and drive change

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Achieving the Strategy’s vision is a shared responsibility. It will need clear coordination across all levels of government and industry, as well as the education and training sectors.

The Australian Government, in partnership with the States and Territories, has an important role in ensuring barriers to participation are removed, disadvantaged job seekers get the assistance they need, and the policy environment enables Australians to quickly upskill and reskill to meet changing business needs.

But it is industry and businesses that best understand their workforce needs and determine how their workplaces will adapt to the changing environment.

To meet workforce needs, industry must take the lead in promoting opportunities, industry-led innovations, establishing attractive career pathways and incentivising people to take up jobs, and understanding its own data and evidence.

More business collaboration and coordination across industries to support and develop a larger and more diverse pool of talent will help avoid skills and labour shortages into the future.

Stronger partnerships with industry are also needed if we are to minimise skills mismatches and increase opportunities for disadvantaged job seekers.

It is in everyone’s interest for businesses to embrace a culture of continuous learning. Active workforce development through training, reskilling, upskilling and retention, will allow businesses to meet their needs while building a more resilient, productive national workforce, and allow more Australians to secure higher skilled, better paying jobs.

Small and medium sized enterprises, with between 0 and 199 staff, employed nearly two-thirds of the business workforce in 2019-20.11 Supporting the capability of these businesses and the workers they employ is important, and sectoral workforce strategies should ensure all business sizes and types are considered.

Closer engagement between Government, industry and education training providers will help build this culture by ensuring skills pathways can quickly and flexibly deliver the right skills employers need.

The Australian Government is investing an additional $149.2 million, taking total funding to $292.5 million over four years to establish a new network of industry clusters to enhance the role of industry in VET, including to identify, forecast and respond to workforce challenges.

The benefits to business of having a more diverse workforce are well understood, but some groups including women, people with disability, Indigenous Australians, the long-term unemployed, migrants with low English skills, youth, and mature age people, continue to face barriers.

Greater engagement between employers, employment providers and governments to better target policies will help improve outcomes. Success will ultimately rely on employers, with Government supporting the cultural and workplace changes needed.

Participation in work-related training declined by 12.5 percentage points from 2005 (35.9%) to 2020-21 (23.4%). 12

Global insights

Industry should be engaged throughout the policymaking cycle, including taking a leading role in design and delivery. Industry should also be activated to play a central role in training and reskilling, both leading programs and partnering with other institutions and Government.

Norway’s strong industry partnerships and inclusive approach helps to maintain a high functioning labour market. Employers play an active role in policy development, with the National Skills Strategy developed in cooperation with employers’ organisations. Institutionalised tri-partite cooperation in VET, employers’ organisations and trade unions have a strong influence on VET, and specifically on apprenticeships

11 ABS, Australian Industry, 2019-20

12 ABS, Work-Related Training and Adult Learning, Australia, 2020-21