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Speech from the Minister for Training and Skills, The Hon. Gayle Tierney

Good morning, everyone.

Can I start by thanking Stacie for that wonderful, heartfelt welcome to country and very informative as well.

And of course, it's also part of our agenda to widen the offering of First Nations languages that in this year’s budget announced as a pilot a Certificate IV in Teaching First National Language.

I’d like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land we are meeting on, the Wurundjeri People. I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and to emerging leaders.

And I also, of course, extend those respects to any other First Nations people who are joining us today.

I also would like to thank Sally Curtain the CEO of BKI, for hosting us today at this wonderful Docklands campus.


I arrived to BKI a little bit earlier at 8:15 this morning, and it was wonderful to see this campus come to life.

Heads down, bottoms up, and people were working around the clock, either at their computers or indeed on engines.

So fantastic to see a full campus come to life - making sure that we are delivering high quality training, and students learning skills that are in demand.

As I look over the audience this morning it is good to see so many leaders right across the post-secondary sector with us today.

And of course, many of you have been on this journey with us for a long, long time.

Thank you for that and thank you in advance for the work that still needs to be done.

Many of you have been with us along this journey – and here we are today to put another peg in the ground for our forward vision.

Today is really about putting another peg in the ground for our future vision for the skills and training system here in Victoria.

It is an absolute honour to launch the first ever Victorian Skills Plan.

Please settle in because I've got a little bit to say this morning.

This is a very important day. It brings together, as I said, a lot of work that has been underway for some time.

We've had the pandemic to deal with while we've been trying to build the engine while running down the motorway.

As we work through the economic and social disruptions of COVID, Victoria's education and training system is absolutely more critical than ever.

Our sector is vital to rebuilding the community and workforce connections that will help us all get back on track – and provide the skilled workers we’ll need to get there.

When it comes to training and skills, the Victorian Government’s mission is simple:

We are investing in training that is accessible and relevant to local communities

We support high quality training

We want to support students so they get the right services to complete their course

We want training that is relevant to industry needs

And we are dedicated to a training and skills system that leads to good jobs and great careers.

We are working to deliver a joined-up post-secondary system – connecting our schools, training providers and industry.

Collaboration and collective impact will be its foundations.

And together we will work to deliver a steady skills pipeline for skill shortage areas and government priorities.

This will benefit everyone with a stake in the work we do:

workers, unions and employers

education and training providers and their staff

and students, parents and communities.

The launch of the Victorian Skills Plan – fittingly during Skills Week – is an important milestone of this mission.

But how did we get here and what work are we building on?

Stabilising and rebuilding TAFE and Training

Well to start with, we had a lot to do when we first came into Government.

We sought immediately to reopen TAFE campuses and stabilise the system.

Then, we started a wave of reforms.

The Victorian Government’s $3.2 billion investment in TAFE and the training and skills sector since 2015 has achieved strong, future-focused outcomes.

The VET Funding Review spearheaded our work.

Under Skills First we reset our VET system to be focused on real training for real jobs.

We said goodbye to tick and flick training and poor-quality providers were removed from VET.

We’ve started creating a fit-for purpose TAFE and training sector:

re-establishing student support services

funding training innovation

and to date invested $457 million TAFE capital works projects.

Skills and Jobs Centres were established at every TAFE, giving students better access to information and training pathways to get through to a job.

We were well on the way to building a system that inspired people to embrace education and training as a way to improve their skills and get ahead in life.

Even before a second term, we knew there was more to do to establish TAFE as the engine room of the training and skills system.

Announced in 2018, introduced in 2019, Free TAFE has made VET fairer and more accessible.

The Free TAFE course list was designed to meet government priorities and skill shortage areas.

There are more than 70 courses on the list today.

If not for Free TAFE, many people would have never been able to access training.

To date, 115,000 Victorians have signed up to a Free TAFE course and we have saved them $281 million dollars.

I’m very proud that Free TAFE has brought more women, mature-age students, unemployed people, culturally diverse students, First Nations students, and students with a disability into TAFE courses.

After completing high-quality training, students are also finding good, secure employment.

The Macklin Review – a catalyst for change

Following the 2018 election, two major reviews were the catalyst for change.

In our schools, the Firth Review looked closely at vocational education in secondary schools.

For this Government, it’s important that parents see there are many pathways.

There is real value and merit in hands on learning.

And thus the Firth review has paved the way for us to put hands-on-learning and theorical learning on an equal footing.

Building on a strong investment in careers education, two new options for students in their final years of school are being introduced from 2023:

the Victorian Certificate of Education Vocational Major

and the Victorian Pathways Certificate.

These pathways will result in graduates that have high-quality, relevant skills that will lead to rewarding jobs and careers.

Alongside the Firth review, the Macklin Review examined the Victorian training and skills system.

Published in 2021, it identified that the legacy of a competitive market model was still pitting training providers against each other.

The review’s central theme was the need for deep and enduring collaboration within our sector.

A cornerstone recommendation was the establishment of a new body to act as a champion and steward of the skills system.

So, we set up the Victorian Skills Authority.

Getting ready to drive reform and change

As we continued to deal with the challenges of the pandemic, we set about at a cracking pace to set up four new key agencies to drive cross-sector collaboration.

In the first six months of 2021, we established:

Apprenticeships Victoria

The Office of TAFE Coordination and Delivery

The Adult, Community and Further Education Division

And, of course, the Victorian Skills Authority.

The VSA:

matches Victoria’s employment demands with training

ensures employers and communities can find workers with the skills they need

and enables Victorians to get training that will help them find a good job and build a career.

From 2022, the VSA will also publish an annual Victorian Skills Plan that sets out the state’s skills needs for the year ahead and beyond.

An annual Victorian Skills Plan

It’s this work that has brought us here today.

The Victorian Skills Plan offers crucial knowledge to users of our state’s skills system.

Learners need to know what skill gaps are emerging to be supported to make better choices.

Providers need information to plan their courses to match industry and community need.

Businesses need to better harness the power of VET so they can hire workers with the right skills.

Access to information means a more organised, functional system.

Key findings the Victorian Skills Plan

Right now, Victorian employment growth is strong and unemployment is at historically low levels.

The Plan reports that we have led the nation in job creation with over 300,000 jobs created since September 2020.

Looking ahead, an estimated 373,000 additional workers will be needed by 2025 to meet growing demand.

The Skills Plan outlines that occupations are in demand across all key Victorian industries.

It is essential we now have this detailed, granular and industry validated state-wide data.

A genuine Skills and Training System

The Victorian Skills Plan is not just a technical report.

The plan shows how we can create a genuine, collaborative skills and training system.

We will do this through a more organised, planned, responsive, steady skills pipeline with clear, easy-to-navigate pathways.

It shows how increasing access bolsters our economy and support our community, making sure nobody is left behind.

A new Federal Government

Working with the new Federal Government will be critical.

The new Government has seen the importance of a training and skills system that is closely connected with jobs and industry – and the value of hands-on learning.

The upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit will be a key milestone in the national policy conversation, with reforms to follow, including the establishment of Jobs and Skills Australia.

As the Federal Government looks to kick start skilled migration – our Skills Plan provides an excellent basis for us to advance discussion on where Victorians can be trained up to fill in demand jobs.

Our negotiations on the National Skills Agreement are also back on track.

As we look to 2023, I am hopeful we will have a strong foundation for Federal State funding arrangements.

And it’s noteworthy that the Federal Government has followed Victoria’s lead in committing to provide 465,000 Free TAFE places.

You can’t fault them for taking a good idea and running with it!

Collaboration and working with Industry is key

We are working directly with industries to build embedded, genuine, deep roots into the post-secondary system.

The Skills Plan drew on over 150 consultations and with employers, employees and other relevant organisations across the state.

It’s heartening to see our shared interest in the work we need to do.

In response to the Skills Plan this Government will more tightly align training funding to employment need.

It will be our guide.

For our state to thrive we need to draw on the strengths of everyone who contributes to the training and skills sector.

Government, employers and workers need to work shoulder to shoulder with one purpose in mind – a high quality, accessible training system that delivers what students and industry need.

Tripartite arrangements going forward will elevate industry collaboration.

And Industry stepping up will be key to achieving this vision.

Co-investment and joint responsibility between government and industry is what will deliver shared outcomes.

There are immediate opportunities for deeper collaboration.

We must generate more quality work placements, so graduates are genuinely job ready.

Further learn and earn opportunities and career pathways will be advanced through intensive work across training providers and industry.

Refreshed curriculum and qualification design will be significantly strengthened through similar collaborative work.

And building the VET workforce can be accelerated and expanded through embedded teacher and trainer industry exchange programs.

And if we want a workforce that looks like our society – we need to work together on practical solutions for more students and graduates that are women, First Nations, culturally and linguistically diverse, and people with a disability.

That’s not tokenism – that’s about making sure everyone has access, everyone is included – and everyone shares the benefits of joined up and relevant training system.

Government needs to step up as well and demonstrate our bona fides through the levers that we hold.

It’s what we are seeking to do with TAFE Demonstration Projects. Where we have students beginning to build our infrastructure projects – with recent examples of the New Footscray Hospital and North East Link.

A great example of government and industry collaboration.

Going forward, getting key players in the room won’t be a burden – it will be the only way to do our work because we know and believe in what can be delivered together.

TAFE and Training

Of course TAFE provides critical workers for our Big Build projects and Social Services reforms.

And now it encompasses new and expanding fields such as digital and technological skills, cybersecurity, gaming and skills for the clean economy.

TAFE Campuses are being revitalised by our investment in landmark capital works projects and new equipment.

We want TAFEs to be state-of-the-art, relevant, fit-for-purpose learning environments.

TAFE can be the provider of choice for government and local industry because it delivers on the needs of employers and creates job-ready workers.

Whilst this Government places TAFE strongly at the centre of our system – let me very clear we will prioritise working with all parts of the training system.

That includes:

Our Learn Locals and Adult and Community Providers

Our high-quality contracted industry, union, private and not-for profit training providers

And our Universities.

We don’t want a joined up system for its own sake.

We want a system where vulnerable people don’t fall through the cracks.

We need genuine pathways and information that is weaved amongst and across a sector that has been disjointed for too long.

This approach will promote access to skills and training, and job and careers.

Promotion of VET as a pathway equal to Higher Education

I am optimistic about the future of VET.

Most of us here today know that VET is an equal pathway alongside university study.

But we have to speak those values loudly, to truly restore the value and pride in Vocational Education and Training.

We need to convince everyone, particularly parents and students – that the pathways are there, and they are worth it.

Hands-on learning is the ticket to great jobs for school leavers and for people who want to retrain.

And because of our shared work, the dial is shifting.

There are now many more TAFE and training graduates who are out in the community, proud of their Vocational Education and Training qualification, and their great jobs.

Conclusion – A call to action

We have a massive agenda ahead of us.

I assure you the Victorian Skills Plan was not written to sit untouched on desks.

It is a dynamic, actionable plan that outlines the skills and workforce challenges for our State, and how we can collaborate to build a truly world-class training and skills system.

And the plan will be updated annually to provide contemporary information and forecast emerging workforce trends.

The Victorian Skills Plan can only be delivered with the help of every one of you.

This is my call to action for each of you today.

I strongly encourage you to engage with the plan, and the Government’s agenda to make training:


high quality

and relevant to industry needs.

I’m really looking forward to you joining us on our collective mission.

I would like to say particular thanks to Craig Robertson, the Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Skills Authority, Lisa Line, Chair of the VSA Advisory Board and VSA staff for driving the preparation of this Plan.

I appreciate you all being here.

I‘m looking forward to you hearing more detail on the plan from Craig shortly.

And after today it will be time to put the plan into action, so let’s get on with it!

Thank you.

Reviewed 30 August 2022