Data is key to addressing skills shortages in COVID-19 recovery, says Small Business Minister


Small Business Minister Stuart Robert. Source: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Stuart Robert has revealed the Morrison government’s plans to build a ‘new data asset’ that will give businesses and government real-time information about the country’s skills shortages at a local level.

The Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business Minister unveiled the new initiative in a speech delivered to the Business Council of Australia in Sydney today, highlighting the work the government is doing to overcome short-term workforce challenges.

Robert said the government is adopting a principles-based approach to addressing the issues in the workforce that the pandemic has exacerbated, with data set to play a central role.

“We know that to get this right, we don’t just need the best possible information, we need to better harness data so we can target skills and training to exactly what is needed,” Robert said.

The new data asset will give information to government and businesses, offering a timely and regional view of Australia’s labour market.

“Data at a regional level will provide us with a better picture of the supply and demand, assist with workforce planning and mean that both business and government will be able to focus on better matching of skills and training to local needs,” Robert said.

Other key principles involved in the Morrison government’s approach include training Australians in in-demand skills to reduce skills mismatches and boost employment.

The government also plans to increase workforce participation among women, the mature workforce and for disadvantaged groups.

Robert said industry will play a key role in the government’s plan and can “drive change” in meeting workforce needs, while targeted migration will ensure workforce shortages don’t hinder economic growth.

“There has never been a better time for industry to step up, get engaged, and play such a pivotal role in shaping the future prosperity of this nation,” he said.

Robert highlighted the investment the government plans to make into the TAFE and tertiary education sectors, with $292.5 million earmarked over the next four years.

“We are investing $292.5 million over the next four years to support these industry engagement reforms — building on the $6.4 billion investment we’ve made in skills and training this financial year,” he said.

The funding will be spent on increasing the number of apprenticeships available through TAFE institutions as well as on microcredentials in the university sector.

Roberts address to the Business Council of Australia comes after Labor leader Anthony Albanese unveiled a $1.2 billion ‘Made in Australia’ plan, promising to address skills shortages through free TAFE courses and new university places.

The opposition leader promised to invest in 465,000 free TAFE places, including 45,000 new TAFE places, if elected into government.


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