Skills passport wanted to connect workers and employers

There’s a proposal to create an Australia-wide system to connect workers looking for a new job with employers seeking people with specialised skills and training.

The federal government has committed $9.1 million to support a business case for a National Skills Passport, detailed in an employment white paper due to be released on Monday.

The passport system is intended to help workers advertise their full range of qualifications, micro-credentials, prior learning, workplace experience and general capabilities.

Businesses, unions, tertiary institutions and students are among those the federal government says will be consulted about the initiative.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the goal was to make it easier for employers to find highly-qualified staff and for workers to have their qualifications recognised.

“We want to make it easier for more workers in more industries to adapt and adopt new technology and to grab the opportunities on offer in the defining decade ahead of us,” Mr Chalmers said.

Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor said while there was a focus on shortages being experienced around the country right now, it was also crucial to make sure students’ skills were recognised so they could upskill, reskill and find work as the economy changes.

Business Council chief executive Bran Black welcomed the commitment, with the employer group a long-time advocate for such a scheme.

“For employers, it will provide a nationally consistent format to view and verify the skills and competencies of a potential employee,” Mr Black said.

Opposition skills and training spokeswoman Sussan Ley said the Labor government was trying to pass off a coalition policy as its own.

The coalition took a skills passport policy to the last election that would have initially focused on credentials for working in the technology sector.

“If students at our TAFEs or universities were found guilty of such plagiarism, they would suffer the consequences for blatant academic misconduct,” Ms Ley said.

She said Australians would already have a skills passport if the coalition had been re-elected.

The Albanese government’s employment white paper follows on from the 2022 jobs and skills summit.

It’s expected to bring together several reform agendas, such as changes to the migration system, under one banner.

A new, broader objective for full employment is also set to be unveiled, instead of focusing on a narrow, statistical unemployment rate target.

The Reserve Bank currently uses the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment as a tool to control inflation but excerpts from the paper assert a broader suite of measures is needed to track full employment.


Rachael Ward and Poppy Johnston
(Australian Associated Press)


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