Federal Budget and Workforce Development

The 2024/25 Federal Budget was announced on 14 May 2024, with a range of funding earmarked to support skills and workforce development. The following provides a summary of a range of measures that may impact the industry as well as the training system more broadly. 

Through the Budget, the Australian Government will provide a range of funding to support specific skills and workforce development services across the country. This includes a total of $2.4 billion for 2024/25 (and $9.9 billion through to 2027/28) through the National Skills Agreement, $612 million in 2024/25 ($2.5 billion through to 2027/28) of which is earmarked for Victoria.  

Specific allocations for this funding are yet to be determined, with further information expected to be available on this in coming months. 

The Australian Government will provide a total of $50 million to support co–investment with states on new and upgraded TAFE facilities. Specific state allocations are yet to be determined; however this funding is intended to be used to ensure that TAFE facilities are equipped and ready to deliver cutting-edge training in clean energy qualifications and support more students to undertake this training.  

Future Energy Skills will monitor this Budget measure closely and work with government where appropriate to ensure that this training meets the needs of employers in the industry. 

An additional $92.4 million has been allocated to Victoria for the Fee-Free TAFE Skills Agreement. This includes funding for both fee-free TAFE and for a TAFE Technology Fund which is designed to improve workshops, laboratories, and IT facilities across the country. This funding also has a specific allocation aimed at addressing labour shortages in the building and construction sector by supporting pre-apprenticeships and specific fee-free places in TAFEs and Industry Registered Training Organisations. 

As with the Victorian Free TAFE initiative, it is important that there is adequate trainer capacity to support this measure. It is therefore hoped that the Federal and State Government will work together with industry on the roll out of this in order to ensure that not only does the training offered align with industry need, but that there is adequate supply of suitably qualified trainers to support this. 

Related to this, the Federal Budget has allocated $30 million to support initiatives aimed at rapidly upskilling teachers, trainers and assessors involved in the clean energy, manufacturing and construction sectors. Specific state allocations are yet to be determined. 

Future Energy Skills welcomes any initiative aimed at increasing the training and assessment capabilities of training providers and looks forward to seeing details of how this will roll out in Victoria, noting that it must be carefully allocated in line with other measures. 

There is also an allocation of $28.1 million in funding to fast track up to six new TAFE Centres of Excellence in addition to the $325.0 million provided under the National Skills Agreement. This funding is yet to be specifically allocated by state, but is intended to support partnerships between TAFEs, Jobs and Skills Councils, industry and universities to establish TAFE Centres of Excellence, design and teach world leading curriculum, and provide students with cutting edge skills.  

This is an area that Future Energy Skills is extremely interested in seeing further detail on, as it is important that any new facilities, equipment, and learning and assessment resources are developed to support industry to achieve its identified current and future skills and workforce development needs. This necessarily means that there needs to be industry consultation to ensure this is the case. 

While the Federal Government reviews the Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System, incentive payments for apprentices in priority occupations, which includes those undertaking an apprenticeship in UEE qualifications, will increase from $3,000 to $5,000 and hiring  

incentives for priority occupation employers from $4,000 to $5,000 for 12 months from 1 July 2024. Details of priority occupations under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System is available at Appendix A – Australian Apprenticeships Priority List – Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Australian Government (dewr.gov.au)

Of interest is a small allocation of funding to Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to ensure compliance with, and enforcement of, recent amendments to the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (NVETR Act). The amendments give effect to measures that respond to integrity risks in the vocational education and training sector and improve ASQA’s practices and processes.  

Finally, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training, tabled a report in February titled, Shared vision, equal pathways: Inquiry into the perceptions and status of vocational education and training, providing over thirty recommendations. While the Government is yet to respond officially to this report, one recommendation was for the Australian Government to enhance the functions of the National Careers Institute. In the 2024/25 Federal Budget, the Institute will receive additional funding. Another recommendation was the promotion of vocational education and training and university as equally appropriate post-secondary pathways. This Budget provides an allocation for a communication campaign to increase the appeal of vocational education and training for students, parents and teachers.  

Future Energy Skills looks forward to how all of these provisions develop, and the impact they will have for Victoria, and ultimately Australia, so that we can continue to meet the energy skills needs of the future. 

For more information review Budget Papers 2 & 3.