There are skills shortages yet we hear skilled people are unable to get jobs – what is the reality? Mike Keating, former head of the PM’s Dept, says there is a mismatch between the skills needed in the workplace and potential workers with low education and skill levels… [and also older, discarded workers and workers trained overseas].
Melbourne newspaper headlines have shouted “Two million thwarted in bid to work” … potential workers, willing and able but they are currently:
– under employed
– not looking for work
– “discouraged job seekers”
– mothers at home with children
– older “discouraged job seekers” who have given up.
It seems more than 640,000 might enter the workforce next year. We are hardly “running out of workers” as John Howard says, but, cabinet debates importing 100,000 skilled workers. (Tim Colebatch – The Age 16.3.05)
Are decisionmakers considering the mismatch and the need for the RIGHT type of training? Can it be that difficult to work out – or does politics get in the way?
Some points being discussed at the grassroots:
1. There is talk about reviewing the training systems – looking at competency and not just ‘time served’ in training/apprenticeship. Not unreasonable given the pre-training skill levels that come naturally with mature age and overseas trained people.
2. AMES (Adult Multicultural Education Services) spokesperson Lynne Wallace Clancy says potential migrants often receive inadequate info about skill requirements: we need to invest more in what we tell people about what they’re coming to and what they will have to do to be successful in our employment set-up and then we need to support them better when they arrive.
3. Newcomers’ Network (www.newcomersnetwork.com) and Vic Immigrant & Refugee Women’s Coalition (www.virwc.org.au) plus many Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Networks offer support and basic training to job seekers like Nenad “Ned” Surla, an environmental marketing man and former chairman of a municipal ecology council in Belgrade, determined to remain in his field. Why not encourage such enthusiasm? (Larry Schwarz – The Age)
4. The ABC’s 7.30 Report recently profiled Dalby, in regional NSW, where local leaders have already recognised a skills shortage, and done something about it, by talking to school students – not dissuading them from going to uni – just telling them facts about training/apprenticeship opportunities there in town. Local Dalby TAFE now provides training – students don’t have to travel so far – excellent public-private sector collaboration.
5. Over a similar period in East Gippsland, a Regional Training Cooperative, a joint venture of regional employer organisations, developed a shared training network that meant members could provide quality training to more than 300 people at venues close to their workplaces. South East Australian Training Services (a division of East Gippsland Institute of TAFE), project-managed the venture, and provided a high percentage of the training.
The Cooperative identifies the training needs of its members, through a survey, and provides a one-stop-shop for training. Members have access to a range of programs and providers through a central agency, at reasonable prices:
– correctional services
– state government departments
– independent contractors
– utility services
– volunteer organisations
– local government
Training is available at all levels, from trade-based to management and smaller organisations are able to pool demand for particular training programs and share the expense, avoiding the costs of sending employees to Melbourne. Apart from the actual cost of the training programs, there are no fees associated with GRTC membership.
Summing up, (i)if decisionmakers are informed about successful programs (ii)if we have people willing to work and (iii) effective collaborative training programs as well as (iv) organisations prepared to assist immigrants obtain work, isn’t this the basis of an immediate start to widespread training / retraining programs? Is communication the name of the game?