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the skills crisis « Previous | |Next »
March 10, 2005

Everyone is now discussing the skills crisis, capacity constraints, the blockages to economic growth caused by the lack of a skilled workforce and the need to boost productivity. There is some very dubious reasoning on this issue.


John Spierings has a good article in The Age today about the causes of the skills crisis. He says:

Since at least 1999, Australian governments, state and Commonwealth, have been aware of widespread shortages in key areas. Between 1993 and 2002 there was an overall 16 per cent decline in the training rate in the metals, building, construction, vehicle and electrical areas compared with the previous decade. This means that our national training effort has not been sufficient to replace and maintain the level of skilled workers in these vital sectors of the national economy.

This indicates that the cause of the current skills crisis is not the lack of ongoing micro-economic reform, as claimed by some government ministers. The cause is the cuts in both school spending during the early 1990s by both the Commonwealth and state governments, and in post school education in the latter 1990s by the Commonwealth.

The move by the cost cutters to reduce investment in vocational and university education was a bad one.

Spierings says that:

The lesson from successful OECD countries is to lift our commitment to all aspects of education and training - secondary, vocational and tertiary education - rather than playing one pathway off against another.

He adds that at a time when we have a shortage of skilled workers more than 78,000 school leavers were not in full-time learning or work six months after leaving school, of whom 40,000 had not completed year 12.

The link is obvious: educate our unskilled school leavers to become skilled workers. Does the Government know how to do this? I reckon a question mark can be kept there, given its track record in the New Apprenticeship Scheme that subsidises employers in areas where there are no skill shortages.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:15 AM | | Comments (0)