Release type: Media Release


Strong commitment to skilling Australians

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews has outlined details of the Turnbull Government’s new flagship $1.5 billion Skilling Australians Fund to leading industry and business groups at an event in Canberra today.

Announced last night as part of the 2017-18 Budget, the Fund will replace the National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform (NPA), which has seen apprenticeships decline by a staggering 46 per cent over the five years of the agreement.

“The biggest annual decline in apprentices in Australia occurred in Labor’s last year in office from June 2012 to June 2013 when the number collapsed from around 515,000 to 404,000, or 22 per cent,” Minister Andrews said.

“Clearly, the NPA signed off by Labor in 2012 is not working and that is why we are replacing it with a new permanent Skilling Australians Fund from 1 July 2017,” Minister Andrews said.

“Our Skilling Australians Fund will work to reverse the decline in apprenticeships and traineeships in key areas identified by industry and states and territories.

“It will focus on occupations in high demand, sectors of future growth and regional and rural areas.

“The Fund will also provide every opportunity for Australians to gain the skills to fill Australian jobs, rather than business and employers having to rely on overseas trained workers,” Minister Andrews said.

Speaking with members of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Industry Group, and the Business Council of Australia, Minister Andrews said the Fund represents a new way for the Government to work with its state and territory counterparts, and includes a strong emphasis on accountability and transparency.

“The Skilling Australians Fund will re-engineer the relationship between Commonwealth and states and territories in vocational education and skills training.”

“We will work with states and territories to identify clear targets and outcomes with funding provided only to those projects that meet the aims of the Fund,” Minister Andrews said.

“This significant and critical change to the previous arrangement represents a genuine commitment to co-investment to benefit skills development locally and nationally.”

Minister Andrews said the Fund will be financed by the Government’s recent reforms requiring employers hiring temporary or permanent employer-sponsored foreign workers to pay a fee.

“We understand that overseas skilled migrants may be necessary to fill a short term need, but the Turnbull Government is ensuring that in the long term we can fulfil those skills needs with Australian workers, which is good for Australian business and good for our economy” Minister Andrews said.

Minister Andrews said industry would play a key role in another measure announced in last night’s Budget.

“Our new $60 million Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices program will benefit around 47,000 apprentices and trainees over two years,” Minister Andrews said. 

“This mentoring support will complement the support services available under the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network and will help to improve completion rates and support the supply of skilled workers in industries undergoing structural change.”

“These two new measures represent a significant commitment to raising the status and value of vocational education and training and will provide certainty in skills funding.”