Speaking at the Independent Tertiary Education Conference this morning, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell said education professionals must consult with local small businesses so they can train the right people with the right skills.
“Small businesses employ the greatest number of people in Australia’s workforce, but they continue to experience difficulty in recruiting skilled workers,” she said.
“We have seen a long term structural shift in employment towards services industries over the last decade, and this is projected to continue.
“The strongest growth is predicted for industry sectors where the main source of skills is Vocational Education and Training (VET), but only 22% of people who start a qualification see it through to completion.
“Around two thirds of the growth is expected in the health care and social assistance, construction, education and training and professional, scientific and technical services and food services.
“Many jobs in these sectors need skills that are VET specific, such as aged care, disability and child care as well as construction and hospitality.
“While apprentice numbers have fallen sharply in recent years, we’ve seen a slight upturn in small businesses employing apprentices.
“Small businesses need VET providers to be more flexible in their approaches to training workers, including tailoring courses to match the skills needed by employers.
“Instead of concentrating on whole qualifications, they should provide a variety of short courses that build a skills profile that makes workers more employable to the small businesses in their community.
“If training organisations genuinely engage with small employers, new markets will open and enrolments will grow.”