Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda – Ambitions and Implications

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Economic priorities come first in the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda with a focus on jobs, exports and improving living standards.

Specific actions include:

  • lifting apprenticeship completion rates and give young Australians the best opportunity to get a job;
  • encouraging employee share ownership;
  • promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills in schools;
  • improving the investor visa programme and reform the 457 visa programme; and
  • encouraging better use of Australia’s world class researchers through the establishment of Industry Growth Centres.

The Hon Ian Macfarlane says that VET reform is vital to the competitiveness agenda particularly:

  • industry focus
  • business-relevant, high quality education and training
  • less red tape for providers and
  • more targeted and demand driven funding – but let’s see if the definition of ‘demand’ is right?

This is on the back of recent announcements regarding Live Learn Earn – new initiatives for Young People plus Australian Apprenticeships and leading to the vision of,

A skilled, job-ready workforce with the sophisticated range of skills needed to capitalise on existing and new opportunities will be essential.”

Delving into the 71 page report it begins with a comparison of Australia against other countries with an ‘average’ rating,

“…multifactor productivity has stalled for a decade and actually fell in 2013, which is the worst performance of 15 countries assessed by the Productivity Commission.”

A nimble economy, a workforce equipped with skills and incentives, all seizing opportunities, encouraging entrepreneurship and a flourishing startup community are part of the picture into the future.

“…it will be critical that all businesses have the people and skills to innovate, the networks to remain competitive in domestic markets, and the know-how to identify opportunities in global markets.”

The Government has four overarching ambitions:

  • a lower cost, business friendly environment with less regulation, lower taxes and more competitive markets;
  • a more skilled labour force;
  • better economic infrastructure; and
  • industry policy that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.

Whilst there is a key initiative related to reform the vocational education and training (VET) sector, all initiatives have an implication for the VET sector, workforce planning and development.

The workforce implications for each ambition includes:

  • Government approach and workforce that is entrepreneurial
  • Skills for international competitiveness particularly engaging with China, Japan and South Korea
  • A world’s best practice higher education and Vocational Education and Training (VET) system
  • Skills for jobs of the future – linked to economic development priorities
  • Student engagement with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – this will need the identification of critical job roles and skills development to match
  • School-based apprenticeships as a workforce development strategy
  • VET in schools that provides a taster of pathways and transferable skills that are required for multiple job roles
  • Workforce planning and development strategies for the VET and higher education sectors
  • Skilled migration strategies and workforce flexibility
  • Skills development in job roles related to transport, energy, water and communications infrastructure
  • Growth acceleration capabilities and skills
  • Establishment of Industry Growth Centres – which should reflect economic and regional priorities with industry roadmaps that include industry workforce plans
  • Workforce planning and development for global supply chains
  • Consultation by Government with the startup community and engaging with small businesses
  • Industry priorities in gas, mining, agriculture, food processing, international education, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices, tourism, financial and professional services
  • Entrepreneurial businesses that fail fast with a culture of doing what is right and applying technology to problems

Under Ambition 2: A More Skilled Labour Force

The Government will focus the VET system on meeting industry needs, including by:

  • continuing to streamline the VET system’s governance and advisory arrangements; and
  • continuing to work with the States and Territories on system improvements, including a possible refocusing of VET in schools and school-based apprenticeships.

The Government will reduce red tape in the higher education sector by simplifying and reducing duplication of reporting requirements.

Bright prospects beyond industry, for me would include:

  • Australian Apprenticeships including school-based that are seen as a second to none choice
  • Existing businesses being renovated, reigniting business owners passion and re-energising their life
  • Government workforce that is entrepreneurial, excited, innovative and takes calculated risks
  • Young entrepreneurs that see starting up a business as a preferred option
  • VET and Higher Education sector that understands the future business environment and are connected to the startup community by being immersed in it
  • Competitiveness Competency Framework that relates to National Training Packages and emerging roles/skills
  • Development of management capabilities but not what we traditionally know

For more information on the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda click here.

Written by Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner, Workforce BluePrint and VET Strategist, WPAA, 14 October 2014.

Register for the upcoming webinars on VET Reform and Priorities – don’t be the only one left behind and Where are the new funding opportunities?

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