19 July, 2012Higher education will play a fundamental role in driving Australia's productivity and future economic prosperity, according to economic modelling released today in a report by the Federal Government's newly created Australian Workforce Productive Agency.
According to the report demand for higher-level skills will substantially increase over the next decade, with the growth of high-skilled jobs expected to occur at around 160 per cent of the rate of low-skilled jobs.
By 2025, the report predicts industry demand for post-school qualifications will increase from 60 per cent to between 65 and 75 per cent, depending on the nature and growth of the economy.
"This report makes clear, that if we want to maximise productivity, we must increase the skills of our workers. The driving force to achieve this is higher education," said Belinda Robinson, Chief Executive of Universities Australia, the peak body representing Australia's 39 universities.
"Whether it be in powering innovation, ensuring our environmental sustainability or maximising our involvement in the Asian Century, the pivotal role of higher education cannot not be overstated.
"The report also outlines the economic contribution of our international education industry, which contributes some $16.5 billion and around 180,000 jobs."
Ms Robinson acknowledged comments by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans, highlighting the increasingly important role higher education will play in meeting the skills challenge.
"As Senator Evans said, roughly a third of our workforce will require a Bachelor's degree or higher in the coming years," Ms Robinson said.
"The demand driven system allows universities to respond to the need for higher level skills by removing the caps on student enrolments.
"But as the report notes, increased investment in tertiary education is needed to avoid an undersupply of qualifications to 2025." (p37).
Ms Robinson congratulated the Federal Government on the launch of the Australian Workforce Productivity Agency (AWPA), replacing Skills Australia.
"Universities Australia supports the role of AWPA in improving long-term workforce planning and development to address skills and labour shortages, as well as contributing to improvements in industry and workplace productivity.
"The university sector looks forward to working closely with the AWPA in furthering these worthy objectives," Ms Robinson concluded.
Link to report: Australia's Skills and Workforce Development Needs.