Professor Peter Dawkins AO was appointed as the Acting Commissioner of Jobs and Skills Australia with effect from 21 August 2023 following its establishment on November 2022 to provide independent advice to government on current and emerging workforce needs in order to meet the skills needs of a thriving economy. Professor Dawkins AO had previously acted as the Director of Jobs and Skills Australia.
Jobs and Skills Australia is a secondary statutory authority attached to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR). In this role he is directly accountable to the Minister for Skills and Training, the Hon. Brendan O’Connor.
He is charged with the task of leading the establishment of Jobs and Skills Australia with the support of a Consultative Forum comprising key stakeholders from business, unions, vocational education and higher education and from the states and territories. Amendments to the Jobs and Skills Australia Act 2022 will see the Consultative Forum transition into a Ministerial Advisory Body.
Peter is an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy at Victoria University, a dual-sector university based in the West of Melbourne, where he was the Vice-Chancellor and President from 2011 until 2020. His career has spanned academia and the public service, and his academic career has involved extensive public policy research and involvement in government advisory committees and reviews. His central area of expertise as an economist is in labour market economics. His policy research and advice has been especially focussed on labour markets, education and training.
For six years (2005-2010), he was a senior public servant in Victoria, as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Treasury and Finance and Secretary of the Education Department. Before that he was the Ronald Henderson Professor of Applied Economic and Social Research and Director of the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne from 1996 to 2005.
He has a passion for the power of education and training to transform lives and for evidence-based economic and social policy. As Vice-Chancellor and President of Victoria University, he led a major reform of teaching and learning in the form of the ‘block model’.
In 2017 he became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions to tertiary education, economic and social research and public administration. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration (Australia), and an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Council of Educational Leaders. He is a board member of UniSuper and Chair of the West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance.
He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. from Loughborough University and a M.Sc. (Econ) from the University of London and has held various university teaching, research and leadership roles at Loughborough University (1976-84), Flinders University (1984-87), Murdoch University (1987-1990), Curtin University (1990-1995) where he was Curtin’s first Professor of Economics, the University of Melbourne (1996-2005) and Victoria University (since 2011).