Government opens workforce connection agency

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has introduced a workforce agency aimed at training in pressured industries.

Targeting 'pressure points' in the Australian economy, the National Workforce and Productivity Agency will train and retrain workers for jobs in expanding industries and higher skilled roles.

Minister for Skills and Jobs, Senator Christopher Evans said the agency will advise on how to meet the continuing demand for skilled workers and support industries and workers affected by structural adjustment.

Mr Evans said Skills Connect is a range of initiatives designed to consolidate the government’s skills programs and target industry and worker training.

The federal budget has allowed the agency to administer the $558 million National Workforce Development Fund for the projects involved.

Skills Connect will provide funding of $50 million through the National Workforce Development Fund; as well as $29 through the Accelerated Apprenticeship Program; $15 million through the Apprenticeship Mentoring Program, and $15 million through the Workplace English Language and Literacy Program.

“The immediate challenge for the National Workforce and Productivity Agency is to act as a skills broker,” Mr Evans said.

He said the agency will assess and match the needs of industries such as clean energy, mining and construction to sectors confronting pressures of structural adjustment.

A Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations spokesperson said the government is using existing resources and personnel to meet costs associated with Skills Connect.

According to the spokesperson, no outsourcing has taken place to develop Skills Connect and no office space has needed to be adapted to accommodate the program.

“Skills Connect is a consolidation of the Government’s skills programs to better target industry and worker training and allow industry to come to government with a whole-of-workforce proposal,” the spokesperson said.

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