On 2 April 2019, the 2019 Australian Government budget was presented, setting out the funding priorities for the coming year. This budget makes a significant investment in vocational education and training, and contains a number of important announcements for the independent tertiary education sector.
Responding to the Expert review of Australia’s vocational education and training system (Joyce Review), the budget announced measures that will invest $525 million into the VET sector through a new Skills Package, Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow.
The objectives stated in the skills package are designed to upgrade and modernise the VET system to ensure the system can help Australians gain the skills they need to participate in the labour market now and into the future. It will also work to create stronger pathways into apprenticeships and jobs in areas of skills shortage, as well as improve accessibility of careers information.
Amongst the measures set out in the budget, the following are of interest to the VET sector:
Additional Identified Skills Shortage Payment for Apprentices
The Government is creating additional apprenticeship incentive payments to boost existing incentives for areas of identified skills needs to support up to 80,000 additional apprentices over five years.
- This payment will provide:
- Employers a total of $4,000 ($2,000 after 12 months and $2,000 at completion), in addition to the existing standard employer incentives of $1,500 at commencement and $2,500 at completion of an apprenticeship
- Apprentices a total of $2,000 ($1,000 after 12 months and $1,000 at completion)
- Eligible occupations will be reviewed annually to ensure current and expected skills shortages are captured.
- The existing Australian Apprenticeship Incentives Program will also be simplified and streamlined.
National Skills Commission & Careers Institute
The Government is establishing a National Skills Commission to oversee the Commonwealth’s $2.8 billion annual investment in VET. The Commission will drive long‑term reform in the VET sector by:
- Working with States and Territories to develop a nationally consistent approach to the funding of VET qualifications (on a qualification-by-qualification basis).
- Driving research and analysis of future skills needs across industry to ensure the VET system addresses national labour market priorities including those arising from developing technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence.
- A National Careers Institute will also be established to improve career advice and provide necessary information for jobseekers.
VET School Based Programs
A five-year commitment of $67.5 million from FY2018-19 to trial 10 national training hubs supporting school-based vocational education in regions with high youth unemployment, with an aim of creating better linkages between schools and local industry, and other skills development measures.
VSL & FEE-HELP Funding Commitments
The Government will commit $1.385 million to support FEE-HEL, Vet Student Loans program and delivery in FY2019-20. The cost of this program rises to $1,508 million in FY2022-23.
A more comprehensive overview of the budget’s impact on vocational education can be found in the 2019 ACPET Australian Government Budget Brief.