The Albanese government is planning for a new body, Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA). It will be one of its top three priorities when the new federal parliament first meets next month.

The Prime Minister has already talked a bit about this proposed body. It’s described as “a national partnership to drive VET education and strengthen workforce planning by working together with employers, unions and the training and education sector.”

In an opinion piece the Prime Minister wrote in the Herald Sun in November last year, entitled “Let’s Invest in Skills for Our Greatest Resource,” he argues for a lift in the investment in education and training. If nothing else, it’s an interesting contrast to another of the articles in this issue where we highlight a recent paper by Wheelahan and her colleagues.

The new Prime Minister talks about skill shortages in key areas like disability service workers, midwives, welders, electricians, surveyors, biochemists, and even hairdressers, bricklayers, painters, and carpenters.

As we have noted in other another recent VDC News article Labor sees TAFE at the heart of the VET system: a VET system focused both on the young and those many middle-aged workers whose jobs are eliminated by change and those who find it difficult to find a new job – an issue for older women in particular. (Another article in VDC News in May contrasted Labor and Coalition approaches.)

The new agency will, according to Albanese’s opinion piece:

“research workforce trends and provide impartial advice about what skills are needed now and what skills will be sought after in the future. Jobs and Skills Australia will be modelled on Infrastructure Australia, which works with industry and governments to research proposed road and railway projects to ensure they are funded on genuine need.”

At present we have the National Skills Commission (NSC).  Its establishment was one of the key recommendations implemented by the previous federal government from Strengthening Skills: Expert Review of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training System (the Joyce review) and The NSC’s role, according to its website, is to provide “expert advice and national leadership on Australia’s labour market and current, emerging and future workforce skills needs.”

We’ll have to wait and see how this new agency differs in its scope and activities once it is established.