The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

11 May 2010


Joint Media Release
The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Education
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for Social Inclusion

Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth

The Rudd Government will invest more than $660 million in training, apprenticeships and adult literacy and numeracy to ensure Australia has the skills it needs to support a growing economy.

This major new investment in Australia's skills is part of the Rudd Government's plan to maximise the opportunities ahead so we can face the future with confidence.

The four-year skills package will deliver:

  • Up to 39,000 additional training places in sectors facing high skills demands through a $200 million investment in a new Critical Skills Investment Fund;
  • Support for around 22,500 new apprenticeship commencements through a $79.4 million extension of the successful Apprentice Kickstart aimed at small to medium businesses;
  • An offer to the States and Territories to provide a guaranteed entitlement to a training place for all Australians under the age of 25 years to ensure young people have every opportunity to gain a qualification;
  • Numeracy, literacy and language courses for up to 140,000 Australians to improve their quality of life, career prospects and productivity; and
  • Better training for the 1.7 million Australians studying in the vocational training system.

The resilience of Australians, combined with sound fiscal policies, have seen us emerge from the global recession with the lowest deficit and the second lowest unemployment rate of the major advanced economies.

The Skills for Sustainable Growth package is designed to respond quickly to skills hot spots emerging through the growing economy, boost the capability of our workforce now and in the longer term, and improve training in the vocational education sector.

Skills for Recovery

The Rudd Government will invest around $300 million to boost the skills of our workforce, particularly in the construction, infrastructure, renewable energy and resource sectors.

Demand in these areas has threatened to outstrip supply. At the same time, youth unemployment remains high in many parts of Australia. This package will provide Australians with the skills needed to support a sustainable economy, and to share in the benefits of growth.

Over $200 million has been provided for the establishment of a Critical Skills Investment Fund to deliver up to 39,000 new places in sectors where there is a high demand, addressing emerging skills shortages in partnership with industry.

Around $80 million will go to extending our Apprentice Kickstart program to deliver around 22,500 apprenticeship positions over the next six months and almost $20 million will go towards the modernisation of apprenticeships.

A better training system for the future

The Government will invest over $243 million to strengthen the quality of vocational education to deliver higher quality training to more students.

An offer will be extended to States and Territories to provide all young Australians with a training place and to undertake ambitious training reforms.

The package extends key elements of the Education Revolution to the vocational education sector. Reforms include:

  • An expansion of income contingent loans through the VET FEE-HELP program to help Australians to gain higher level technical and trade skills;
  • A Quality Skills Incentive scheme to lift the standards and performance of Australia's largest vocational education providers, including TAFEs;
  • The establishment and operation of the new National Vocational Education Regulator and Standards Council; and
  • A MySkills website linked to the new national regulator to provide greater transparency and robust comparable information for people when selecting a provider.

Foundation skills for our workforce

A significant number of working age Australians do not have adequate numeracy, literacy and language skills and as a result, are unable to secure high-value, high-reward employment and progress their careers. Addressing this problem will improve national productivity and improve the lives of Australians.

Accordingly, the Rudd Government will provide around $120 million over four years to ensure that 140,000 Australians receive assistance through the language, literacy and numeracy programs to improve this fundamental shortfall in our workforce.

The workplace program will provide workers with a practical means to improve their skills without having to give up their job to study.

11 May 2010