SUBJECTS: Job-ready graduates
Neil Breen: The Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan is on the line. Good morning Minister.
Dan Tehan: Good morning Neil. How are you?
Breen: I’m well, thanks. Is this about making kids go to uni and do the courses that’ll get them a job?
Tehan: Yeah. We want to make sure that we’re incentivising students to study in the areas where we know there will be jobs in the future. We’re facing the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression, so we’ve got to make sure our young people have the skills to be able to take the jobs that we know will be there once they’ve finished their degrees – whether it be teaching, whether it be nursing, whether it be allied health, whether it be in agriculture, where, not only do we need people studying around farming, but, also, all those service industries around agriculture, which are so important for our nation. So, we want to make sure that young Australians going to university are getting the skills in the places that we need them, to be able to help grow our economy into the future.
Breen: Minister, when did you start thinking about doing this? Has this been, rather, a quick thing?
Tehan: No. Look, we’ve been thinking about this, because we knew that there was going to be extra demand coming into the system, as a result of the Peter Costello, what’s called the baby boom. But, when we had the coronavirus pandemic, we put in place short courses in exactly these areas where we’ve discounted, and what we’ve seen is the uptake in those short courses has been quite remarkable. The higher education sector has provided 350 short courses, and we’ve seen over, we think, approximately, 20,000 students take up those courses in the last couple of months. So, that’s why we know there is a hunger and a demand there to get the skills in these areas where we know that jobs will be, and this builds on that work we did dating back a couple of months.
Breen: You said something really interesting there. You’re facing a lot of demand because of the Peter Costello one baby for mum, one for dad, and one for the country, when he was giving away the baby bonus. So, that’s put a lot more kids in the system, right?
Tehan: That’s right, and they were going to come into the system in 2023 and 2024. So, we started doing work around, okay, what would we do to deal with that? But, now with the coronavirus pandemic, obviously …
Breen: … You just brought it forward …
Tehan: … bring it all forward. So, we can thank Peter Costello for his one for the country, for making sure that we’ve done the work to be able to respond to this coronavirus pandemic, and the impact that it’s going to have on our university sector.
Breen: So, obviously, you just said before, we’re facing the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression. I saw the Prime Minister and the Treasurer yesterday. I could see the worry on their faces. This is an enormous thing the country is facing, and, you think, maybe, for a few years?
Tehan: Absolutely. One of the sad realities of any recession, and I can recall the last one because I was coming out of university when it hit, in the early 80s …
Breen: … Could you get a job?
Tehan: Well, I can still remember looking at the employment pages and thinking, where the hell am I going to, where am I going to be able to get a job now? Fortunately, I was able to. But, I look back and think, even then, I wish I had have done a language at university. I wish I had continued on with my maths. I wish I had have done some IT, because it really would have helped me have skills. And, that’s what we’re trying to say here, is that for young people, think where the jobs are going to be, and skill yourself in those areas, because that’s how you help your future, but also help the future of the nation.
Breen: Okay. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan, thanks so much for joining us on 4BC Breakfast.
Tehan: Pleasure Neil.