Training vital for future growth: NSPC

The NSPC’s report Investing Wisely is a collaborative effort involving Australian Industry Group, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Group Training Australia, Dusseldorp Skills Forum, and Australian Education Union.The report outlines the need to increase skills development and foster a culture of learning in Australia’s workforce.AiGroup chief executive Heather Ridout said even with rising employment it was crucial to remain focused on skills development.“As soon as labour market conditions improve skills shortages will re-emerge with a vengeance, especially given our aging workforce,” Ridout said.“It will bring with it all the familiar pressures on our ability to have the skills we need to sustain investment and growth.“Indeed, we need to avoid the mistakes of past downturns where training was seriously neglected – businesses need to be positioned to emerge with the skilled workers they need to take advantage of the recovery,” she said.ACTU president Sharan Burrow said enhanced skills and training would increase productivity and enable Australia to emerge from the global financial crisis with a more globally competitive workforce.Burrow added a focus on training quality, not quantity, was crucial.Five key recommendations in the report include:Government, industries and employers working closely to encourage investment in the most appropriate training strategies that would lead to higher and better use of skills;
Cultivate a culture of learning across all areas of the workforce;
Strategic and more flexible investment of public funds focusing on demand, boosting productivity, better employment outcomes and social inclusion;
Ensuring the public training system receives adequate funding; and
Making sure sufficient investment is made into developing essential skills.
Meanwhile, Queensland arguably invests the most in training, out of all states, in the construction sector.Construction Skills Queensland chief executive officer Rod Camm told CIN’s sister publication Contractor the rapid downturn in Queensland’s construction sector had prompted the organisation to reorganise its priorities.“We’ve now shifted our priorities to focus almost solely on skills development programs and maintenance strategies to keep the current apprentices and trainees in the system, but also to continue skills development of existing workers to encourage them to stay in the industry as well,” Camm said.“What has happened in other downturns is a lot of apprentices and trainees, and some of the other skilled workers, lose their jobs.“They then go off to other industries and they don’t ever come back.”He said the sector would again be facing a skills shortage in the next upswing.“These are tough times, but it is really important industry across the board doesn’t lose sight of the long term and keeps developing its workforce.”

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