National Skills Survey Confirms Skills Shortage Despite Increased Employer Training Investment
24 March 2011
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Australia’s largest and most representative business association has today released findings of the ACCI National Skills Survey, providing a rare and contemporary insight into the challenges Australian employers face in meeting the skills needs of modern workplaces.
The ACCI National Skills Survey, launched today by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, Senator the Hon. Chris Evans at Parliament House in Canberra, covered all industry sectors and varying business sizes in metropolitan and regional areas.
ACCI's Chief Executive, Peter Anderson in his speech to the launch said, “the ACCI National Workplace Skills Survey collected information about the level of investment by Australian businesses in training staff as well as information about skill deficits, skill shortages, professional development, and the quality of educational providers.”
“Today, 91% of employers are actively investing in training, compared to 81% eight years ago.”
“Despite increasing investment, the Survey confirms a serious skills deficit. It finds that current skill levels of employees, on average, only meet 80% of job requirements – with this figure expected to fall to 75% by 2015.”
Peter Anderson said “recent calls for the introduction of a training levy based on the alleged lack of industry expenditure on training are not consistent with the findings of the Survey, and underline the wisdom of the government’s decision to rule out that option.”
“In addition to funding direct training, the Survey provides a fuller picture of what employers actually invest, including non-financial contributions such as paid time off for employees to engage in training, costs for supervision of apprentices and trainees and backfilling of staff undertaking off-the-job training” he said.
The Survey also presents a challenge to the education sector to lift its interaction with industry on the provision of relevant and accessible vocational training.
“It is a concern to ACCI and business organisations that employers continue to report serious skills deficits in basic areas of literacy and numeracy amongst new intakes of apprentices and trainees. The vocational training system has important work to do on workplace and technical skills and should not have to substitute for schooling.”
Industry itself should use the Survey to invest widely in skills development on a planned and substantial basis.
“With so many employers investing in skills development and identifying gains to productivity, competitiveness, growth and staff retention, those businesses not doing so risk being left behind.”
"Vocational training should be targeted towards the immediate skills needs of workplaces as opposed to supply driven approaches where funding guides the training that employers and employees can access.”
The Survey also finds that while most employers find value in the level of incentives paid to employ an apprentice, there is a significant percentage (40%) who consider the current level inadequate and a potential barrier to future employment opportunities, especially amongst youth.
“This finding, and recent government action to boost employer incentives such as the Kickstart Initiative, provide strong evidence that increased employer incentives are an effective means to boost apprenticeship commencements.” Peter Anderson said.