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Regions must be at the heart of re-energised VET sector

18 October 2023

National Cabinet’s sign-off of the National Skills Agreement (NSA) signals new possibilities for the career pathways of regional Australians, according to Regional Australia Institute (RAI) CEO Liz Ritchie.

Ms Ritchie has congratulated Skills and Training Minister, Brendan O’Connor, and his state and territory counterparts for getting the job done on the long-stalled NSA but said it must have regions at its heart. 

“The regions are on the front line of the nation’s workforce challenge with more than 91,000 internet advertised jobs during August and near record workforce participation,” Ms Ritchie said. 

“This includes acute demand for many VET qualified professions such as motor mechanics, electricians, technicians, aged care workers and early childhood educators.” 

Ms Ritchie said the region’s workforce pressures came at a time when more people than ever before were making the shift from capital cities to the regions. 

“Migration from metropolitan Australia to country towns and cities remains up 16% on average, compared to 2018 and 2019,” Ms Ritchie said.

“The RAI’s research shows millennials have a strong propensity for life in regions, with 54,000 more young people leaving capital cities for the country between 2016-2021, compared to the previous five year period.

“And, 47% of surveyed metropolitan 18-29 year olds believe there are many job opportunity in the regions.

“Enhanced and better-connected career pathways in the regions, that directly link to local industries and sectors are key to ensuring we continue to see population growth in the regions. 

“Critically, a refocused, better funded VET and TAFE sector must deliver placed-based skill opportunities for regional school leavers who wish to work and study at home.” 

Ms Ritchie particularly acknowledged the NSA’s focus on the development of the skills needed to power the nation’s energy transition. 

“The lion’s share of the renewable energy workforce will be based in regional Australia, and it makes sense for the institutions that support this be regionally based,” Ms Ritchie said. 

“In particular, regions must be adequately represented in the placement of Centres of Excellence, identified in the Federal Government’s Employment White Paper, and which connect vocational and tertiary education with industry.”  

“We also welcome the commitment by Jobs and Skills Australia to develop a Regional Jobs and Skills Roadmap. This will be invaluable in making sure we plan to grow the region’s productivity and that regional Australians have equitable access to services such as health care, childcare and education at all level.”  

The RAI, through the ‘It’s Your Move’: Regional Australia’s Biggest Ever Recruitment Drive campaign has been speaking to all Australians about the many, diverse and rewarding career opportunities on offer in the regions.

“We know one in five capital city Australians are considering a move to the country and so far 110,000 regionally curious job seekers Australians have visited Move To More to find out more about what a career and life in regional can mean to them,” Ms Ritchie said.

“The finalisation of NSA negotiations coupled with the potential of regional Australia, promises to make our country communities even more attractive for people to live, work and invest.

“We look forward to working with the Commonwealth, states and territories on bringing the NSA to life.” 

More information about It’s Your Move, can be found on the Move to More website. 

For media enquiries contact: 
Melinda Hayter 
Ph: 0498 373 300  
E: [email protected]