Release type: Media Release


COAG report shows rise in Australian workforce skills


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate

Today’s release of the COAG Reform Council’s report shows there has been a significant improvement in the skills of the Australian workforce.

 Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Jobs, Senator Chris Evans, said the latest annual report, Skills and Workforce Development 2010: Comparing performance across Australia shows the proportion of Australians aged 20 to 64 with minimum qualifications (Certificate III level or above) increased to 56.6 per cent in the last two years.

 The report noted that the increases occurred in the most disadvantaged socio-economic areas: lower income, lower educational attainment and higher unemployment.

 The report also shows that in 2010, government-funded course enrolments in the vocational education and training (VET) system were 14.4 per cent higher, and enrolments of Indigenous students in higher level VET courses was 37.6 per cent higher than the average enrolments for 2005-07.

 Over a similar period, VET course completions increased by 37.0 per cent.

 Senator Evans said he was pleased that the report showed significant investments in VET by all levels of government, through COAG, resulting in an increase in course enrolments and completions, particularly among Indigenous people and other disadvantaged groups.

 “The evidence shows that the skills of the Australian workforce are on the rise,” he said.

 “The Government has made record investments in vocational education and training through COAG since 2008 and the outcomes from these investments are clear.

 “COAG set an ambitious target for its skills reform agenda of doubling the proportion of Australians with minimum qualifications, up to 76.4 per cent, by 2020.

 “It is still very early stages, but the Council’s report shows that we are making steady progress towards the target. In the coming years, I expect that the effects of COAG’s investment in VET will be seen through further progress towards the target.

 “The target is ambitious but we are certainly not backing away from it. The Australian Government reaffirmed its effort to achieve the target through the Building Australia’s Future Workforce package announced in the 2011-12 Budget.

 “The Building Australia’s Future Workforce package is a $3 billion investment in skills and training initiatives over six years. It will deliver the skilled workers the economy needs and ensure that more Australians can benefit from our growing prosperity.

 “Developing a highly skilled and educated workforce is at the very heart of this Government’s plan to build an economy that will meet the challenges of the future.

 “We are making record investments in skills and education. It is a major investment in our future national prosperity and provides people with opportunities to reach their full potential.”

 Each year, the Council reports to COAG on the progress of its reform agenda for skills, outlined in the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development and national partnership agreements between the Commonwealth and the states and territories.