JobMaker: A skills overhaul for Australia


The new JobMaker Plan announced by the Australian Federal Government on 26th May is a little sparse in details, but here’s what we do know so far.

Scott Morrison plans to address skills shortages in areas such as the construction sector with sweeping reforms to simplify and unify vocational training across all states of Australia. With the goal to rebuild the Australian economy from COVID-19, a key element of the JobMaker plan is to train Australians with the right skills to suit our high demand industries. Future changes to Tax and Industrial Relations are also expected to be announced in the coming months.


Industrial relations Minister and Attorney-General Christian Porter will head up a new “National Skills Commission” as part of the JobMaker plan to identify emerging skills shortages using current labor market analysis and industry data. The National Skills Commission will consist of five groups of select industry groups, unions and employers whose opinions and expertise will form the basis of a practical reform agenda.

“Membership of each group will include employer and union representatives, as well as individuals chosen based on their demonstrated experience and expertise, and that will include – especially – small businesses, rural and regional operators, multicultural communities, women [and] families,” Mr Morrison said.

The reforms will be negotiated and implemented over the next three to five years with changes to simplify awards, streamline enterprise agreement-making and greenfield agreements for new enterprises, wage compliance and changes to casual and fixed-term employee outlines.

The National Skills Commission will compile yearly reports identifying which skills are most in-demand across Australia to allow those entering the workforce as apprentices or skilled migration to know which industries have the highest potential for employment.


In an interesting move, the Federal Government has put their Ensuring Integrity Bill aside in a bid to get unions on side and cooperating in the National Skills Commission conversation. Union input and support will be essential in the success of the Prime Minister’s planned Industrial Relations reforms as he negotiates changes to workplace laws.

The Ensuring Integrity Bill was initially proposed as a means to deregister officials or unions who broke the law after multiple incidents across the construction industry of harassment and illegal entering of construction sites.

 “I hasten to caution, on this Bill, does not reflect any change or lack of commitment to the principle that lawful behaviour of registered organisations should be strictly required on all worksites in Australia.” Mr Morrison said “ Given how critical the construction sector will be to the task of rebuilding the Australian economy, the government remains committed to ensuring the law-breaking stops. We are committed to ensuring that this happens in the simplest, fairest and most effective statutory form possible, which we will consider going forward.”




An overhaul of the skills and training system is central to the JobMaker Plan. The current system was described as “fundamentally flawed” by Scott Morrison, slow to respond to the current workforce skills and demands. Changes to vocational training aim to equip our workforce with better skills to secure jobs in industries crucial to Australia’s recovery.


“It is no wonder when faced with this, many potential students default to the university system, even if their career could be best enhanced through vocational education.”

“I want those trade and skills jobs to be aspired to, not looked down upon or seen as a second-best option. It is a first best option,”

A series of Skills Organisation Pilot programs have already been established for human resources, digital technologies and mining. These pilots form the first step in the overhaul with more industries programs to follow suit. With input from industry leaders in the National Skills Commission, training programs will be streamlined to focus on matching current industry demand, giving more Australians the right skill set they need to find employment.


“They are designed to give the industry the opportunity to shape the training system to be more responsive to their skills needs and take responsibility for qualification development.”


Plans are in place to review the way each Australian state spends the  $1.5 billion in federal funding for vocational education each year. The Federal Government is calling to create improved consistency across VET and higher education sectors across Australia, simplifying the system and ensuring the funding is going towards educating Australians to fill skill gaps. Attention will be given to the return on investment of funds through increased performance monitoring and transparency, with strict rules put in place for spending.

Recent reports highlight huge discrepancies on course fees students pay depending on which state they live in.

“For example, in 2019, a student undertaking Certificate III in Blinds, Awning and Security Screens received a subsidy of $3,726 in Queensland, $9,630 in New South Wales and no subsidy in Victoria unless the qualification is taken as an apprenticeship.”


As new developments are announced we will aim to keep you updated. In the meantime, you can keep to date with all the latest COVID-19 schemes in your state by heading over to our Tradie Survival Pack, a free resource we created to update you with all the latest announcements relevant to trades and construction as they happen.

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