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COAG signs up to skills for all Australians

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COAG signs up to Skills for All Australians

FRI 13 APRIL 2012

Prime Minister, Minister for Skills

The nation’s training system will be transformed after the states and territories signed up to a $1.75 billion package to accelerate skills reform at COAG today.

This skills package will ensure our national training system is able to respond to the needs of our economy, and will help to lift productivity and competitiveness.

Around an additional 375,000 students will be able to complete qualifications over the next five years under the package signed up to at COAG.

This will help more Australians get the training they need to get a job, to change careers or to up-skill and get a better-paying job.

The key elements of the $1.75 billion package signed up to today are:

The creation of a National Training Entitlement, giving working age Australians guaranteed access to a government subsidised training place; The expansion of income-contingent loans to subsidised higher level qualifications in the vocational education and training (VET) system; Launch of the MySkills website, to ensure students and industry can make an informed choice about the training that suits them, and a student identifier for the VET system; and Measures to raise the quality of skills training and outcomes.

This $1.75 billion package is in addition to the $7.2 billion the Government will provide to states and territories through the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development over the next five years (see separate release).

In total, that means the Government isproviding almost $9 billion of funding to the states and territories over the next five years. This is a $1 billion increase over the previous 5 years under the National Agreement and Productivity Places Program National Partnership.

Today’s reforms will provide industry with a better qualified and flexible workforce over time and will assist in meeting skills shortages in key areas of the economy.

The creation of a National Training Entitlement will see all working age Australians guaranteed access to a government subsidised training place, up to their first Certificate III.

Students who have literacy and numeracy difficulties, who left school early, have a disability or workers who have are long term unemployed will have improved access to training at a level that will have a significant impact on their employment and wage earning prospects.

Students will be able to access the Entitlement through training providers approved by states or territories to deliver publicly subsided training. Depending on where the training is carried out, the subsidised place could be worth up to $7800 for some courses.

In a second key reform, VET students studying subsidised diploma and advanced diplomas will have access to income contingent loans like those offered to university students through FEE HELP.

This will enable up to 60,000 students per year to defer the upfront cost of tuition, so that cost will no longer be a barrier to training. Students will be able to defer payment for their study until they are earning in excess of $47,000 per annum.

The My Skills website, due to be launched later this year, will give students the information they need to make the right choice about the training that suits them.

A new Unique Student Identifier will also be introduced so students will be able to access information about their training record from a single authoritative source.

The Gillard Government will work with the states and territories to ensure courses delivered by the VET sector are subject to independent quality assessment.

We will ensure students receive high quality training that meets the needs of industry and students.

This includes strategies to improve the quality of VET teaching and training through the implementation of criteria specific to each state including monitoring, performance evaluation and quality indicators for providers.

States and territories will trial independent checks on the quality of training provider assessment practices over the next two years in order to underpin the introduction of a national system of independently assessed and validated VET qualifications.

States and territories will have to set strict criteria to ensure only quality providers with an established record can access public funding.

Skills Australia estimates that in the five years to 2015, Australia will need an additional 2.1 million people in the workforce with VET qualifications.

This skills package is a significant breakthrough for business and employees as we shape the new economy. It sits alongside our reforms in clean energy, broadband and tax redesign as the building blocks to equip our nation for the challenges ahead.

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