Support for Labor’s skills plan

Labor’s plan to tackle the skills shortage with an independent body has met cautious support from business groups.

The proposed body, called Skills Australia, would include economists, business leaders, academics and training providers and advise government on current and future skills needs.

Tony Stevens, CEO of the Council of Small Business of Australia, says any measure to address the skills shortage will be welcomed by the small business sector.

“The issues it will confront will be finding effective ways of engaging long term un- employed and motivating the Australian workforce to do further training,” he says.

Labor has already pledged to create trade centres in every secondary school. In contrast the Howard Government believes Australian technical colleges are the answer. Stevens says it is too early to judge whether the technical colleges have made a positive impact.

The Australian Industry Group has also given cautious support to the plan. AiG CEO Heather Ridout told The Australian Financial Review: “I think it’s important we do have a well-resourced body that’s got confidence in industry, got some broad expertise on it.”

Mary Hicks, the director of education and training at Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says: “We’re waiting for more detail. We do believe there are good things about the current system in the role of that industry plays. We wouldn’t want to see the baby thrown out with the bath water.”


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