Objective 3.1

Domestic workforce meets the needs of industry

Action 3.1A

In progress

The Government will incentivise Australia’s education and training system to deliver job-ready graduates in the disciplines and regions they are needed most, including the needs of services exporters.

Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Government response
Related Action/s

Government should incentivise Australian universities to develop a new approach to ensure courses are directly relevant to the needs of Australian society and the economy, including services exports.


Support employers to provide career pathways, training, apprenticeships and internships to attract students to careers in areas of identified skills need, including export-oriented services sectors.


CQUniversity School of Mining and Manufacturing

The new Central Queensland University School of Mining and Manufacturing at the university’s Rockhampton North and Gladstone Marina campuses will support Queensland’s mining and manufacturing sectors through skills-training, education, research and workforce development for the future.

Read more

Progress to date

On 19 June 2020, the Government announced its Job-Ready Graduates package, which will deliver more job-ready graduates in the disciplines and regions where they are needed most. This package includes measures to improve tertiary education outcomes for regional and remote Australia.

On 9 December 2019 the Australian Government accepted all recommendations of the Australian Qualifications Framework Review in relation to higher education. The Government also accepted the aims of the recommendations of the review regarding vocational education and training, contingent on further discussions with state and territory governments. The Government is continuing to work with the states and territories to make decisions on progressing and implementing the recommendations.

JobMaker is the Government’s plan to return Australians to work and support economic recovery and future growth. The vocational education and training (VET) system will help drive Australia’s economic recovery by giving people the skills for jobs that are in demand.

Key VET initiatives under the JobMaker plan, include:

  • $2.8 billion Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy, to keep apprentices and trainees in jobs
  • an additional $1.2 billion for the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements measure to support up to 100,000 new apprentices and trainees
  • $1 billion JobTrainer Fund, in partnership with the states and territories; and
  • Heads of Agreement for Skills Reform, agreed with the states and territories.

In 2020-21 the Australian Government partnered with state and territory governments to establish the JobTrainer Fund. JobTrainer funds free or low fee training places for job seekers and young people, including school leavers, in areas of identified skills need. The Australian Government provided $500 million in 2020-21 and this is being matched by contributions from state and territory governments. JobTrainer has supported almost 200,000 enrolments to date.

As part of the 2021-22 Budget, the Australian Government announced it would commit an additional $500 million, to be matched by state and territory governments, to expand the JobTrainer Fund by up to 163,000 places and extend the program until 31 December 2022.

The JobTrainer extension and expansion will also reserve around 33,800 places for anyone wishing to study aged care and 10,000 places for digital skills, to strengthen Australia’s digital workforce.

The Australian Government and all State and Territory Governments have signed the Heads of Agreement for Skills Reform, which sets out immediate reforms to improve the vocational education and training sector as well as an approach and priorities for developing a new National Skills Agreement (to replace the National Agreement on Skills and Workforce Development). The priorities in the Heads of Agreement aim to ensure that Australians can access high quality and relevant training and businesses can get the skilled workers they need, to take on jobs that emerge through the next decade and beyond.

The Next Generation Artificial Intelligence (AI) Graduates program is being delivered under the AI Action Plan, a component of the Digital Economy Strategy. The Program will attract and train up to 234 home-grown, job-ready AI specialists through competitive national scholarships. 

The Next Generation Emerging Technology Graduates Program is also being delivered as part of the Digital Economy Strategy. The Program will attract and train up to 234 additional home-grown, job-ready specialists in emerging technologies other than AI, such as robotics, cyber security, quantum computing, blockchain and data through competitive national scholarships. 

The scholarships will be co-funded with universities and industry. Students will participate in industry-led research projects and placements to build job-ready skills. These graduates will help backfill the shortage of AI and other emerging technology specialists which businesses report as the most pressing challenge to adapting and developing emerging technologies. 

On 28 October 2021, the Government announced landmark VET reforms to drive our skills-led economic future. The reforms recognise that Vocational Education and Training (VET) is central to Australia’s economic growth and business productivity and is a key part of the nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19. These reforms will strengthen the role of industry and empower them to drive reforms to Australia’s VET system to ensure employers and individuals can access the right skills at the right time. This will equip Australians with the skills they need to upskill in current roles or apply for new and emerging jobs. New Industry Clusters will be established by the Australian Government to provide industry with a stronger, more strategic voice and broader role in ensuring the nation’s VET system continues to deliver on employer and learner needs.

The Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030 was released on 26 November 2021, alongside several key initiatives to support its implementation. Developed with input from over 1,600 stakeholders, the Strategy identifies four priority areas for the next decade in the Australian international education sector: diversification; alignment with Australia’s workforce and skills needs; students at the centre; and, growth and global competitiveness.

Over the medium term, the strategy aims to achieve a better alignment between the courses studied and Australian skill shortages. International students have always been an important source of labour and skills for Australia, both while they are studying and through post-study placements and work rights, as well as becoming entrepreneurs and employers themselves.

A stronger alignment between Australian skills needs and courses in which international students enroll will support Australian businesses, industries and economy. The National Skills Commission has identified Australia’s skills needs in a range of existing and emerging fields that will drive Australia’s economic growth in the future. These areas, many of which support the services sector and Australian services exporters, will be encouraged for attracting international students. Priority includes data and digital specialists, health professions and engineers.

The Australian Government announced a $2.2 billion investment over 11 years to translate more high quality university research into new products and services, new businesses and start-ups, and more jobs through the University Research Commercialisation Action Plan. The University Research Commercialisation Action Plan will create stronger links between business and industry and focus effort in the six National Manufacturing Priority areas to drive commercial returns, these include resources technology and critical minerals processing, food and beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, defence, and space.

As part of the University Research Commercialisation Action Plan, the $242.7 million Trailblazer Universities Program will support four universities, including at least one regional university, to supercharge prioritised research under Australia’s National Manufacturing Priorities and develop closer ties with industry partners. The program will provide up to $50 million over four years to each Trailblazer University to strengthen their commercialisation capacity, hire leading researchers and innovators and establish industry-aligned courses that respond to the job-ready skills of the future. There is also a total of $30 million allocated for participating universities to partner with CSIRO and access specialist equipment to support their research translation and commercialisation capabilities. The four successful universities will lead Australia’s efforts in research commercialisation and support the national manufacturing priorities. Further information is available at www.dese.gov.au/university-research-commercialisation-package.