The Jobs and Skills Summit brings together leaders across all sectors, spurred to action and partnership by our Prime Minister and our Treasurer.
All of us determined to work together – to make change in all our interests, to make the most of all our talent, all our ingenuity, all our uniquely Australian, diverse, multicultural brilliance.
Every day, students and scholars in our universities across Australia come together to tackle our toughest problems, to grasp our greatest opportunities.
That is exactly what we’re doing – here at the summit – and universities are here to help. More than half of the one million jobs expected to be created in the next five years will require a a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Our immediate task is addressing the critical skills shortage right now, and we have some practical solutions today.
We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of additional, free TAFE places to ensure the workforce has the skilled people it needs. This builds on and complements the allocation of 20,000 additional university places.
But we mustn’t lose sight of the need to prepare for the future, to invest in our knowledge assets, our people, that will power our society and take us into the future we have been hearing about over the last day.
One where we are at the cutting edge of the new industrial revolution, the transition to renewable energy, not trailing behind others who go the jump on us because we were too slow.
A future where we have the full kit to tackle the great challenges of our time: Climate change, geopolitical disruption, food insecurity, pandemics, the list is endless.
A strong university system means a strong and resilient economy and community.
But right now, what can we do to ease pressing skills shortages today. Some practical suggestions.
We can remove barriers to retraining and upskilling. Many Australians want and need extra skills, and a micro credential, offered with a HECS style loan, so no upfront fee, is a great solution.
That way, Australians open up new horizons for themselves, and industry can pick up the skilled employees they need more quickly.
And we could do better at retaining more international graduates – who already have a great Australian qualification, simply by smoothing visa processes to encourage more of them to use their Australian education here in Australia.
Expanding the number of clinical placements for student nurses, doctors, paramedics, will get more health workers onto wards, into aged care homes more quickly.
Lastly and certainly not least, teachers, those noble professionals. We can create more opportunities for student teachers to do more training in schools before they graduate – making them better prepared, more likely to stay in the classroom.
These are just some of the practical measures universities are ready to move on, in partnership with government and industry – to stem shortages right now.
Universities are up for it – and we look forward to working with you all to deliver for all Australians.