Senate debates

Tuesday, 27 September 2022


Jobs and Skills Australia Bill 2022, Jobs and Skills Australia (National Skills Commissioner Repeal) Bill 2022; Second Reading

5:51 pm

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the Public Service) Share this | | Hansard source

I table the revised explanatory memoranda relating to the bills, and I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—


The Jobs and Skills Australia Bill 2022 delivers on the Government's commitment to establish Jobs and Skills Australia as an independent body to provide advice on the skills and training needs of workers and employers, now and in future.

Today I am introducing the Bill with amendments to the initial Bill introduced on 27 August 2022, to expand the functions of Jobs and Skills Australia to help improve employment opportunities for Australians and strengthen the economy.

Jobs and Skills Australia will provide advice on issues relating to skills, training and workforce needs in regional, rural, and remote Australia—including the accessibility of training for those living in regions, and skill gaps which exist. The number of businesses unable to fill job vacancies is increasing, especially in our regions which have specific skills and workforce needs.

Jobs and Skills Australia will provide advice on pathways into VET, and the pathways between VET and higher education. This will create a clearer understanding for students who might commence studying in the VET system, before continuing into higher education.

Improving opportunities for employment, and VET and higher education outcomes are critical for Australians that have historically experienced labour market disadvantage and exclusion, like First Nations Australians, women, and those aged over 55. Jobs and Skills Australia will ensure these cohorts are prioritised in performing its functions.

Initial Bill introduced on 27 August 2022

Informed by the outcomes of the Jobs and Skills Summit on the 1st and 2nd of September 2022, the Government will continue to consult industry and employer bodies, unions, education and training providers, State and Territory Governments and others to determine the next stage of implementing Jobs and Skills Australia.

This consultative approach paves the way for shared value from the creation of Jobs and Skills Australia for all stakeholders with an interest in skills and the quality training of Australia's workforce.

Taking into consideration what we have heard, the Government will introduce further legislation that sets out the full range of functions, structure and governance arrangements to establish the permanent model for Jobs and Skills Australia.

Jobs and Skills Australia will have an important role in strengthening Australia's economy by providing crucial workforce planning functions. It will undertake workforce forecasting and prepare capacity studies for new and emerging industries and contribute to planning for a pipeline of skilled workers.

One of the biggest challenges facing Australian employers across many sectors right now is that they are struggling to find workers with the skills needed to ensure their enterprises are fully operational.

Skill shortages have been made worse by the pandemic—especially with reduced skilled migration and the lack of support for migrant workers during the COVID lockdowns.

The absence of planning and lack of a coordinated national response to skills and labour shortages in the last 10 years have contributed to the crisis facing some sectors.

The Government intends to restore tripartite cooperation and is determined that the trend over the last decade towards more insecure, low-paid and unskilled work, is addressed.

Innovative sectors of our economy have also been held back by the lack of policy leadership and planning. To succeed, our emerging industries in advanced manufacturing, technology and clean energy, all critical to tackling climate change, require an increase in the supply of highly specialised skills.

These challenges for emerging industries are being experienced against a background of an already tight labour market, supply chain and related economic challenges.

The Bill provides the first stage of establishing Jobs and Skills Australia and identifies the initial functions and structure of the organisation. The Bill establishes an interim Jobs and Skills Australia Director to commence the important work needed now, and who will lead Jobs and Skills Australia through its initial establishment and the performance of its initial set of functions. To support its formation, the agency will be situated within the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

From inception, Jobs and Skills Australia will give effect to the Government's commitment to a tripartite approach. In exercising its functions, Jobs and Skills Australia will be required to be inclusive and to genuinely consult and work with State and Territory governments and other key stakeholders.

Jobs and Skills Australia will have a remit to advise on the adequacy of the VET system and to consider the adequacy of outcomes for students engaged in training.


The advice of Jobs and Skills Australia will help build a bigger, better-trained workforce and a more productive economy.

This Government supports the aspirations of all workers for secure work, meaningful work, and a better future for themselves and their families.

We understand work isn't just about your pay packet. With work comes purpose and identity.

Australians who have the right skills have more job security and more job choices.

A skilled workforce is also a more productive workforce.

Learning new skills, acquiring knowledge and cultivating innovation is key to opportunity, wage growth and job security for workers, and to increasing productivity and revenue for industries.

The Government understands immediate action is needed to address critical skill shortages.

Core business of this Government is to create opportunities for Australians to prosper. That is why an expeditious establishment of Jobs and Skills Australia is a priority for the Government.

Finally, I make mention to the Senate Committee for their tabled report and recommendations from the inquiry.

The recommendations demonstrate and support the government's ongoing commitment to establish Jobs and Skills Australia as a matter of priority and establish the permanent Jobs and Skills Australia, including its full range of functions, structure, and governance arrangements, through informed stakeholder engagement.

Specifically, recommendation one mentions, 'the Government's rebranding exercise of Jobs and Skills Australia must reflect the needs and aspirations of the business community who gave evidence during the hearings in support of the new Jobs and Skills Australia'. While not agreeing to the characterisation of a rebranding exercise, Jobs and Skills Australia will reflect the needs and aspiration of business. That's why they are given a voice in the tripartite model and we are further engaging on the final form of Jobs and Skills Australia for the second tranche of legislation.

Recommendation two mentions, 'Coalition Senators urge the Albanese Labor Government to provide the sector with certainty by committing to legislate the final model, with measurable outcomes, of Jobs and Skills Australia within the 12-month timeframe they have set. Anything outside this timeframe will put Australia at a competitive disadvantage'. The Government's delivery plan is clear. We will deliver the final Jobs and Skills Australia model in a reasonable timeframe, noting that the intention is reflected in the legislation. This is evidenced by a time limited 12-month appointment period for the interim Jobs and Skills Australia Director.

Recommendation three mentions, 'in establishing the new Jobs and Skills Australia, the Government must consult widely and ensure that it preserves the independence of the new statutory authority.' The government is engaged in wide consultation on Jobs and Skills Australia's functions. The Government will draw to    .Member's attention that the model in this legislation is independent. The Minister is not able to direct advice given by Jobs and Skills Australia.

I commend this Bill to the chamber.


Today I am introducing the Jobs and Skills Australia, National Skills Commissioner Repeal Bill 2022.

This Bill repeals the National Skills Commissioner Act 2020.

The National Skills Commissioner has performed important advisory functions since the office was established in 2020.

However, to address the economic challenges facing Australia, we need a more strategic focus on our future workforce and skills needs and to develop better connections with industry, employers, unions, and state and territory governments.

The establishment of Jobs and Skills Australia will deliver on this, and repealing

the National Skills Commissioner Act is part of the pathway forward.

I commend this Bill to the chamber.

Debate adjourned.

I move:

That resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for a later hour.

Question agreed to.