National Workforce Development Fund – Fundamentals

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$700 million has been made available by the Australian Government over 2011-12 to 2015-16.  Organisations can identify their current and future training needs based upon the business goals and outcomes they are aiming to achieve.

Where organisations may have whole of workforce needs, Skills Connect Programs, including the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF), Workplace English Language and Literacy, Investing in Experience, Australian Apprenticeship Mentoring, and Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships can support development needs.

NWDF fundamentals

Reading case studies is a good way to see what has been funded in the past and download Skilling Your Business.  The quick reference guides are useful and subscribe to The Bridge for the latest news and changes on Skills Connect.  It is important to know how the fund works.

Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency

The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, AWPA for short, (operational from July 2012) is responsible for determining the industry sectors, regions and groups that will be prioritised for funding. Information about the priorities for funding in 2012-13 will be available on the NWDF website.

A fair proportion of funding will be available to support delivery in regional areas. This is expected to be at least population share or 32 per cent.

Senator the Hon Chris Evans announced on 21 September 2011 that the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) will oversee the industry driven fund and give advice on the industry sectors, regions, and groups that will be prioritised for funding.

AWPA recently published Future focus 2013 National Workforce Development Strategy.

Industry Skills Councils

The NWDF uses a partnership approach where Industry Skills Councils (ISCs) play a key role in administering the program and industry contributes to the cost of training. ISCs will assist businesses with identifying their training needs, selecting a Registered Training Organisation to address these needs and monitoring the implementation of successful projects.  For information on ISCs generally, visit their website.

Industry Skills Councils

The websites of ISCs and Auto Skills Australia can be accessed below.

AgriFood Skills Australia

Auto Skills Australia

Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council

Construction and Property Services Industry Skills Council

EE-Oz Training Standards


Government Skills Australia

Innovation and Business Skills Australia

Manufacturing Skills Australia


Service Skills Australia

Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council

Who can apply?

Organisations eligible to apply for funding include:

  • Enterprises
  • Professional associations, industry bodies, and other lead agents representing a consortia of enterprises
  • Employment Service Providers

To access funding, Registered Training Organisations must establish a partnership with an enterprise or group of enterprises to support a proposal from the enterprise/s. The proposal will need to be submitted through the relevant Industry Skills Council.


Participating businesses will contribute to the cost of training. The level of Government support is based on the size of the business with additional support provided for smaller businesses:


What can it be used for?

Training must be either a nationally endorsed qualification or a Training Package Skills Set recognised under the Australian Qualifications Framework linked to the Priority Occupations List.

For new workers these qualifications can include Certificate II, III, IV, Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Vocational Graduate Certificate and Vocational Graduate Diploma.

For existing workers these qualifications can include Certificate III, IV, Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Vocational Graduate Certificate and Vocational Graduate Diploma.

Workers undertaking training in a Skills Set must already hold a qualification at a Certificate III level or above.

Must Do’s

  • Talk with the relevant Industry Skills Council first (preferred if contact is made by the proponent, not the RTO)
  • Be able to clearly articulate the business needs, how this matches to the training solution and how you will evaluate the effectiveness of the training
  • See your idea and application from the funders perspective, is it value for money, is dealing with the participating organisations in your application a risk?
  • Check eligibility criteria, consider who your partners should be, read the guidelines and work up your application
  • Develop a workforce plan, skills profile or training needs analysis to underpin the evidence for your NWDF application
  • Consider using The Workforce Plan Tool to assist you to pull together a workforce plan.

Further information

For further information on the National Workforce Development Fund go to:

Industry Skills Councils

Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency

Written by Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner, Workforce BluePrint, 26.4.13

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