Training’s role in Closing the Gap

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The latest ‘Closing the gap’ report was recently released. This incorporates the 2023 annual report and 2024 implementation plan. It includes a range of funding commitments with training implications, including fee-free TAFE programs and establishing regionally based university study hubs.

The National Skills Agreement has a big role to play which “will help bring the Commonwealth, states and territories together with First Nations people to steward the Vocational Education and Training system and to improve outcomes for First Nations communities.” The revised RTO standards will also play their part with “proposed changes … help[ing to] create an environment which better supports cultural safety for First Nations people.”

The report also notes that, in 2023:

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) supported the establishment of the National Indigenous Employment and Training Alliance (NIETA). NIETA [it points out] is a group of First Nations organisations delivering employment and training services across Australia “established to strengthen First Nations voices in employment policy, program design and implementation, and help shape further improvements to employment services and training supports to meet the needs of First Nations people.”

In addition, the First Nations specific Indigenous Skills and Employment Program (ISEP) “aims to provide complementary support to mainstream programs to help connect First Nations people to jobs, career advancement, and to new training and job-readiness activities.”

Looking forward

First the implementation plan is looking towards a “redesigned Australian Apprenticeship Support Services providing enhanced individual and employer support for Australian Apprenticeships, [including] specialist providers improving wrap-around support for women in male-dominated trades and supporting First Nations apprentices and apprentices working towards Clean Energy occupations.”

Second, establishing a network of remote training hubs over the next five years, starting with two in 2025 and with possibly up to seven in total.

Third, progressing a national skills and training policy partnership framework over the next 5 years. This process will likely begin with the establishment of “an interim First Nations Partnership Committee, networked with state and territory partnership arrangements [that will] contribute to Skills and Training policy, and guide the establishment of formal partnership arrangements as part of a staged approach.”

And finally, work on gathering data to advise progress and help “drive community-led development aligned with local priorities.”

Training’s role in Closing the Gap | VDC