House debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023

Questions without Notice

National Skills Agreement

2:06 pm

Photo of Fiona PhillipsFiona Phillips (Gilmore, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Last night, National Cabinet met to agree to the new National Skills Agreement.

How will this agreement be good for Australians, good for the economy and good for our future?

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The Manager of Opposition Business is continually interjecting. I think he knows my policy about interjections during questions. I give the call to the Prime Minister.

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Gilmore for her question. Last night National Cabinet reached this landmark National Skills Agreement, and I pay tribute to the minister for working with state ministers for skills over the last year in order to deliver the agreement, which arose out of the Jobs and Skills Summit that we held here last year. This is a commitment with $12.5 billion over five years to transform and expand access to skills and training. It includes $214 million to close the gap in skills between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The agreement delivers the skills people need to find a good job and the workforce that Australia needs to build a better future. I thank the premiers and chief ministers with whom I've met over the last fortnight in order to land this landmark deal.

Indeed it's the first National Skills Agreement since 2012. It's like history disappeared and just stopped during 2013 and 2022. These investments will deliver skills in priority areas right across the country as well as meet local needs. We'll work together with the states to deliver TAFE centres of excellence because we know we need more collaboration between the universities and the VET sector. We will invest in skills because it's good for Australians and it's good for individuals. Students I met this morning who are working on EV maintenance and on electric vehicles will have good, secure jobs into the future, and it was fantastic to meet those Australians—young Australians or, in one case, someone reskilling in order to secure a good job for the future.

Investing in skills is a national priority for us. The National Skills Agreement builds on the work we've done over the last 18 months. First of all, we promised 180,000 fee-free TAFE places, and we've delivered 215,000 of them. We will deliver another 300,000 fee-free TAFE places from January next year. We've established Jobs and Skills Australia. We're improving foundation skills delivery because we know that one in five adults have alarming gaps in literacy, numeracy and digital literacy. We're lifting apprenticeship completion rates. Our investments mean more workers in the care sector—in aged care, in child care—more workers in clean energy, more workers in construction and more workers in manufacturing, which is good for individuals and good for our economy.