The ‘Skills for Queensland – Great training for quality jobs’ strategy was launched in August this year by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman. The Rural Jobs & Skills Alliance (RJSA), on behalf of industry, had made numerous submissions to the variety of government and departmental discussion papers which lead to the formulation of the skills strategy. Industry believes that the strategy announced is a positive step in the right direction and highlights the government’s commitment to engage more Queenslanders in education, training, skills development and job opportunities leading to work. It offers a framework that encourages flexibility in delivery and sets ways in which the skills and training system can build on its strengths to respond to industry’s present and future needs.
The strategy also emphasises the importance of industry and government partnerships to ensure that Queenslanders have access to skills and training that contributes to economic prosperity. To achieve this, key initiatives in the strategy include:
- refreshed industry engagement approaches with a sharper focus on small business;
- the establishment of a Ministerial Skills Roundtable; and
- holding biannual regional skills and summits.
RJSA welcomes these initiatives and looks forward to the opportunity to work with government to ensure that industry input to skills investment priorities is efficient and representative.
The strategy also highlights that partnerships, particularly at the regional level, must be a focus if we want to actively support regional job creation. These partnerships will create an enduring skilling and learning culture that can support individuals throughout their working lives. The creation of new Regional Jobs Committees to bring together local industry groups, training providers, local and major employers, and councils to help plan local training is supported by the RJSA, although we are awaiting the details of its implementation.
Industry recognises the importance of better pathways, better connections between schools and employers, and the provision of career advice that accurately informs career choices aligned to industry needs. The strategy released mentions initiatives, such as the review and expansion of the Gateway to Industry Schools program and the establishment of a new industry engagement framework between industry and schools, that will encourage school students into the jobs of the future. The RJSA had already kick-started the design process by a proposing the Queensland Agriculture to Schools Engagement Program (QASEP). This proposal supports a comprehensive industry led program to holistically address the gaps in schools-industry engagement.
Agriculture remains the most diverse job market of any sector in the economy. It is well known that for various reasons, the expertise and labour supply needed in our sector is constantly challenged. Further, the rapid pace of digitalisation, mechanisation and the Internet of Things are changing current roles, education needs and training requirements. Overlaying all this is the global challenge of feeding, clothing and growing amenity for 9.8 billion people by 2050 in a changing climate, while maintaining quality products and nurturing the environment.
Amongst a number of initiatives mentioned in the strategy, is the inclusion of a $5.5 million, three-year Micro-Credentialing pilot to support employers and their workers to gain the skills needed to adapt to workplace changes including that of new technologies. The agriculture industry is in constant change and therefore flexible training that allows the workforce to adapt and reskill as industries, technologies and jobs evolve is welcomed. We invite government to consider agriculture as a key industry to participate in the pilot program.
Agriculture is and will remain a key employer, particularly in Queensland’s regional communities, so it is critical that the awareness, education and employment pathways for our sector are effective. We need to take action today to develop the skills for the workforce of tomorrow. The Skills for Queensland – Great training for quality jobs is a positive step in the right direction and we look forward to working with government to implement this strategy to fulfil our industry’s needs.
For more information on the strategy please see: https://desbt.qld.gov.au/training/docs-data/strategies/vet-strategy