On Monday 6 March 2023, Jobs and Skills Australia’s (JSA) Professor Peter Dawkins AO, David Turvey, Rayeed Rahman, and Jo Reeve hosted a webinar providing an overview of the role of JSA, and presenting the findings of JSA’s new quarterly Labour Market Update report.
If you missed the live event, or if you’d like to watch it again, the recording is now available.
The slides from the webinar are also available to download.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How is Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) different to the National Skills Commission?
JSA will build on the work that the National Skills Commission started and key products that are widely used, like the Internet Vacancies Index will continue. However, JSA will have a broader remit. JSA will focus on more detailed workforce planning to make sure we have the right people at the right time to meet the economy’s skills needs. The initial focus will be a detailed study on the workforce needs of the clean energy sector. JSA will also actively engage with state and territory governments, employers, business peaks, unions and education and training providers to provide advice on current and emerging workforce needs and the adequacy of Australia’s skills and training system.
Where are the economy's skill shortages most acute and what solutions are JSA considering to address the skills shortages?
The present skills gap in Australia is one of the biggest economic challenges we’ve faced in decades.
The number of occupations assessed as being in shortage for the 2022 Skills Priority List nearly doubled from the past year with 286 occupations assessed as in shortage compared to 153 in 2021.
This increase has been driven mainly by shortages for professionals like medical practitioners, nurses and teachers. While this is a concerning new development, it is equally important to recognise that shortages remain most prevalent for Technicians and trade workers.
47% or nearly half of all occupations currently on the Skills Priority List are for Technicians and trade workers and this is particularly the case for occupations requiring an apprenticeship, such as electricians, carpenters, chefs, and motor mechanics. Persistent shortages in trades are a longstanding problem and one that’s complex, with multiple, interwoven elements.
On 13 December 2022, the Australian Government announced $402 million in funding over the next four years to establish Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs) to help address skills shortages and broader workforce challenges.
The new JSCs will have a strong connection to JSA, aligning with the Australian Government’s vision for new industry engagement arrangements.
JSCs will work in partnership with JSA to align workforce planning for their sectors. This first step will help determine job roles, skills needs and training pathways, combining industry-specific intelligence with JSA’s forecasting and modelling.
Who does JSA intend to engage with and how will they ensure that no one is left behind?
Engagement will be a key feature of all that JSA does. From how we develop our work plan and the way we undertake our major in-depth studies, to our contributions to policy processes and the way we collaborate and partner alongside others to enhance the skills system and improve labour market outcomes.
We recognise and value that our work is enhanced through deep, two-way engagement with our partners and stakeholders; and we are excited by the opportunities that lay ahead as we develop and embed our core commitment to tripartite engagement.
We are taking a partnership approach with industry, business and unions, states and territories, training and education providers and Jobs and Skills Councils. These partnerships will bring together our whole-of-economy data and analysis with the on-the-ground experience and expertise of our partners to provide powerful insights into Australia’s current, emerging, and future skills needs.
Importantly our engagement approach extends beyond our tripartite partners and includes a commitment to undertaking our work inclusive of diverse perspectives. This includes the perspectives of regional, rural and remote Australia, the experience of First Nations people, people with disability and others who have historically experienced labour market disadvantage and exclusion, as well as those focused on achieving gender equity across education and training and in the labour market.
Further information about our engagement activities will be available on our website. You can also get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is being down to reform and strengthen the VET sector?
VET has an important role in supporting more Australians to access skilled work and contribute to economic prosperity.
Given the importance of VET to meeting Australia’s current and future skills needs, it is imperative that steps be taken to strengthen and improve the system so that it is resilient to the inevitable uncertainties that lie ahead.
JSA is working with the Government in a range of areas to reform and strengthen the sector and to help make it future proof.
What is JSA's role in relation to the Australian Government's review of migration policy?
JSA is well equipped to provide advice on the labour market needs of the economy and the role that skilled migration can play to support the Australian economy. As the Minister for Home Affairs stated on 22 February, the Government is currently preparing, based off the work of the Migration Review Team, a draft architecture for a new migration system that will be released for consultation in April. The Minister for Home Affairs also stated that we need to better coordinate and integrate the needs of the labour market, training and education system and the migration system – and that will mean giving Jobs & Skills Australia a formal role in our migration system for the first time.
Is there a difference in the skill levels in demand between regional and urban areas?
JSA publications such as the Internet Vacancy Index and the Nowcast of Employment by Region and Occupation (NERO) highlight that different geographical areas across Australia have different compositions of their labour force (from an industry and occupational perspective), as well as different compositions of recruitment activity by the employers in each region. As a result, the particular skills in demand will differ between regions, between states and territories, and between regional and urban areas.
Are you able to provide information about skills shortages in specific regions?
The 2022 Skills Priority List (SPL) was produced by the National Skills Commission, but is now the responsibility of JSA for future updates, including the 2023 update later this year. The 2022 SPL provided assessments of skills shortages at both a national and state and territory level. The state and territory analysis included an assessment of whether shortages within that state or territory were found in the capital city, the remainder of the state or territory, or both. There is currently insufficient data to provide skills shortage assessments at a more granular level than this.
Will non-wage incentives be critical in increasing applicants to regional areas?
There are a significant range of factors that influence the number of applicants for job opportunities in regional areas. These include, but are certainly not limited to, the wage and non-wage working conditions associated with each job opportunity. As the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government has previously noted in the media release Regional Australia in focus as Jobs and Skills Summit, there are wide-ranging issues that sit behind skills shortages in the regions from housing affordability and availability, liveability, lack of training facilities and pathways, construction costs and access to materials, lower wages in the regions, and competition for skilled workers across industries.
How is automation likely to impact the labour market? What do we expect this potential impact to be?
Automation and technological changes have played out across the Australian economy over the past few decades resulting in some structural adjustments, with effects unevenly distributed across certain industries, regions and occupations.
Previous work by the National Skills Commission measured the automatability of occupations using a methodology developed by researchers at the Oxford Martin School in 2019 to determine an automatability score for work tasks. The Commission in 2021 was able to use these scores to estimate how automatable an occupation is based on these tasks weighted by the time spent on these tasks.
Interestingly, there is currently strong demand for some of these highly automatable jobs, but it is likely that the skill needs for these occupations will change as the tasks underpinning them continue to be augmented by technology. This may have several policy implications on how we best re-skill these workers to adapt to new skill requirements such as digital skills to work with emerging technologies.
What will JSA be doing to better understand foundation skills and why?
JSA will lead the development and delivery of a major study on adult literacy, numeracy, and digital literacy skills, which will provide up-to-date evidence on the level of foundation skills among Australian adults. We will also work with the ABS to analyse administrative and other data to ‘drill down’ into the results for priority groups.
A lack of basic literacy or numeracy skills, or both, often results in exclusion from education, training, and secure work, as well as difficulty engaging in society more broadly. The most recent national data available on adult foundation skills is more than a decade old.
As a first step in designing the survey, JSA has developed a discussion paper which raises key considerations for input, including the scope of the national study, its definitions and how the study will be implemented. Getting the design right is critical to ensuring the study delivers on the promise of building an updated evidence base for foundation skills in Australia.
Why is JSA undertaking this study?
A longstanding and important workforce issue that needs to be addressed is that many Australian adults have low levels of literacy and/or numeracy. Foundation skills such as reading, writing, numeracy and digital literacy are fundamental to meaningful work and community contribution, yet the data on the situation in Australia is over a decade old.
According to the OECD Survey of Adult Skills, conducted by the ABS in 2011-12, approximately 3 million adults were lacking the fundamental skills required to participate in training and secure work in 2011-12.
If both current and future skills are going to be addressed, then we need to understand whether the very basis of those skills have improved or if they have gotten worse. Anecdotally, industry voices are hinting at the latter.
When are the results of the foundations skills study due?
First results from the foundation skills study are due from late 2024.