Electricity Generation & Gas Industries Need Better Skills Funding Agreement

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA)

The current framework in which the Australian, State and Territory Governments are negotiating a new skills funding agreement will do little to address skills shortages in the electricity generation and gas industries. That’s the view of the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent providers in the skills training higher education and international education sectors.

“Employers in these critical industries are finding it tough to get trained staff, and that situation is likely to continue given current policy settings associated with the new National Skills Funding Agreement,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.

“The electricity generation and gas industries will face challenges training new workforce entrants and upskilling existing workers. This is due to the failure of government to back a student’s choice to study with independent Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) with a commitment to quality,” Mr Williams continued.

Government data referenced in the 2022 Australian State Of The Sector Report shows that in the electricity supply industry (generation sector) and gas industry training packages, 100% of student enrolments are with independent RTOs.* There are no student enrolments with public providers in these critical training packages, thus a funding model that doesn’t back student choice does little to address skills shortages in the electricity generation and gas industries.

“A government skills funding model that doesn’t recognise that we need to provide more funding to support students studying in the electricity generation and gas industries is fundamentally flawed. Students, employers and our economy need a better deal,” Mr Williams said.

ITECA is lobbying governments across the nation for a more flexible skills funding agreement that is responsive to the needs of the broader economy and individual businesses.

“We need to put students at the heart of decisions on skills funding. If employers in the electricity generation and gas industries are crying out for skilled workers and these courses are only offered by independent RTOs with a commitment to excellence, we need a skills funding system that is more responsive and allows independent RTOs to support more students,” Mr Williams said.

As the nation moves towards renewable energy, here too, independent RTOs will do the heavy lifting in providing higher level and complex qualifications.

“Around 97% of student enrolments in the sustainability skills training package are with independent RTOs, highlighting the critical role of ITECA members in helping workers transition to new industries,” Mr Williams said.

According to ITECA, there are sound budget reasons to back a student’s decision to study with independent RTOs. This is because government data shows that completion rates with private RTOs are higher than at their public sector counterparts.

“Taxpayers can have confidence in the investment they make when government backs a student’s decision to study with a private RTO as the completion rates are highest at these provider types,” Mr Williams said.

Across the nation, independent RTOs do the heavy lifting in the skills training system, supporting 87.1% of students in skills training. They deliver the majority of higher level and complex qualifications, including 70.9% of Diploma and higher skills qualifications and 69.4% of Certificate IV qualifications.

“ITECA continues our advocacy with the Australian Government, and the state and territory governments, to show why independent skills training is great for students, great for taxpayers and great for Australia,” Mr Williams said.

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