Labor moves to set up jobs and skills body

·2-min read

An independent skills and training body to help strengthen the economy is a step closer to being established, after legislation was introduced in the lower house.

The proposed body, Jobs and Skills Australia, is being touted by the Albanese government as a solution to help tackle Australia's labour crisis and skills shortage.

Skills Minister Brendan O'Connor introduced the new government's first bill to the parliament on Wednesday.

"The advice of Jobs and Skills Australia will help build a bigger, better trained workforce and a more productive economy," he said.

"We understand work isn't just about your pay packet, with work comes purpose and identity.

"A skilled workforce is also a more productive workforce. Learning new skills, acquiring knowledge and cultivating innovation is key to opportunity, wage growth and job security for workers and to productivity and revenue for industry."

The legislation establishes an interim Jobs and Skills Australia director to lead the body as it sets up.

Jobs and Skills Australia will sit within the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

The agency will also consider the outcomes resulting from the Jobs and Skills Summit in September.

Mr O'Connor said the body would advise on the needs of both employers and workers, as Australia faces a skills shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government is also abolishing the National Skills Commissioner.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew McKellar said experience showed the vocational education and training system worked best when industry and government collaborated.

"At a time when job vacancy rates are at record highs and the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.5 per cent, measures to encourage more Australians into the workforce and give them the skills they need is more important than ever," he said.

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