Required skills in Australian project beyond 2025

By Surani Punchihewa

I would like to draw your attention to the most recently ( March 5 2010) published report by Skills Australia, the appointed body to advice on the fabrication of the new Skills Occupations List (SOL). Skills Australia provides advice to the Commonwealth Minister for Education on Australia's current, emerging and future workforce skills and workforce development needs. Some excerpts are directly extracted from the report named Australian Workforce Futures.

This report mainly highlights how national level strategic planning is essential in creating long term policies for a country's future. The workforce of a country is its blood stream and having clots in it serves the contrary to its objectives. A country's long-term growth prospects and the future nature of the society depends on the skills of the people and the way those skills are utilized.

There is concern expressed that Australia risks missing out on the full benefits of future global growth and the dividends from the investments in education unless Australia urgently commits to a new national approach to workforce development that maximizes people's capabilities, lifts productivity and increases workforce participation. Among the workforce threats that Australia faces, demographic change, economic performance and social inequality are considered largely national issues that are of a serious nature. In order to combat this situation it is required to deepen the skills and lift productivity to successfully adapt to change and maintain a competitive advantage and a high standard of living. It is also discussed that due to an increasing ageing population, labour shortages are a future risk and the necessity to increase the current rate of employment participation.

There are six major recommendations proposed in the report, out of which sustaining economic growth and raising productivity is set as a priority. How does Australia plan to do this? Australia requires a highly skilled population to maintain and improve its economic position. Research has proven deeper levels of skills are required than those currently existing. Australian workforce is projected to grow an average of 2.1 percent per annum reaching 15.3 million by 2025. Based on the projections, Australia will have 9.3 million job openings over the next 15 years.

However the underlying issue seems to be catering to this increased demand of employment and more precisely the skills issue where highly skilled professionals are required to sustain economic growth. To accommodate this highly skilled professionals requirement, the tertiary enrolments must increase to three percent per annum, although currently it stands at 2.1 percent. It is very well understood that there is a link between qualifications and workforce participation.

Furthermore, the government plans to lift workforce participation rate to 69 per cent by 2025 that will deliver fiscal benefits and substantial contribution to the economic bottom line. This is a very ambitious task and Australia is determined to reach this target by supporting partnership between employers and service providers internally together with a high level strategy to produce skilled people through tertiary education. In meeting the future skills needs, Australia believes in an effective skills migration programme together with the government initiatives to enhance local skills level.

According to the report, it is projected that Engineering, Computing professionals, Welfare professionals, University and Vocational teachers, Scientific research professionals are some of the professions that will have the highest rate of employment growth. There are many occupations that are listed which may be indicative of the way the new SOL will appear that is due on April 30.

Indeed, this list comprises highly skilled professions, and some generic occupations that are currently in the SOL but are very much likely to be taken off. Should there be applicants wishing to make applications and their occupations not highlighted in the recent report by Skills Australia, better now than never. There is still time to make your Australian dream a reality.

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