The employment, skills and workplace relations initiatives in the 2023–24 Budget will ensure the department supports people to have safe, secure and well-paid work, with the skills needed for a sustainable future.
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Skills and Training
The 2023–24 Budget is helping to rebuild and modernise the skills sector to ensure Australians have the opportunity to access well-paid and secure jobs, while building a more resilient economy.
The Australian Government is committing an additional $4.1 billion upon striking a five-year National Skills Agreement with states and territories. This will ensure better access to vocational education and training (VET), with TAFE at the centre.
This includes over $400 million to support 300,000 TAFE and VET places to become fee-free, provided for in the 2022–23 October Budget.
Subject to successful negotiation of the NSA with states and territories, this will take total Commonwealth investment in their training systems to $12.8 billion over five years.
The government will fundamentally reform the delivery of foundation skills, so more Australians over the age of 15 can access training to improve their literacy, numeracy and digital skills.
This includes the redesign of the existing $436.4 million Skills for Education and Employment program to improve access to foundation skills training for all Australians who would like to improve their LLND skills. Along with this, funding will be provided to support an extension of the Foundation Skills for Your Future Remote Community Pilots program to 30 June 2024.
An additional $54.3 million to introduce critical Australian Apprenticeship supports to improve completion rates. Supports and services are being strengthened to improve outcomes for First Nations apprentices, apprentices with disability, those who live remotely, women in male-dominated trades and others who experience additional barriers to completing their apprenticeship.
$8.6 million to deliver the Australian Skills Guarantee and introduce national targets for apprentices, trainees and paid cadets working on Australian Government funded major construction and ICT projects. This includes new targets to double the proportion of women in apprenticeships and traineeships, working on Commonwealth funded major construction projects over $10 million.
Other measures include:
- $3.9 million in additional funding over two years to establish a defence vocational skills taskforce. This will help develop the workforce required to shape our sovereign industrial base and support the delivery of Australia’s nuclear submarine program.
- $42.2 million to develop the first phase of fit-for-purpose, modern VET Student Loans IT system that students and providers can rely on.
- We are adjusting two of the three Skills Assessment Pilots, which are delivering free and fast-tracked skills assessments and employability assessments to improve employment outcomes for onshore migrants – including humanitarian visa holders and partners of skilled migrants – in priority occupations.
- The Government is providing an additional $5.1 million for the National Careers Institute to continue to provide Australians with an authoritative source of evidence-based information on education, training and careers pathways.
Employment and Workforce
In the 2023–24 Budget, the Government is providing more targeted support for job seekers, young people, First Nations communities and Pacific Island workers.
Enhancing Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme: The Government will provide an additional $168.1 million over four years, to enable the department to bring domestic operations in-house, which will enhance scheme oversight and participant welfare. The Fair Work Ombudsman will also receive an additional $27.3 million to ensure workers’ rights are protected. This will help address economic challenges in the Pacific and Timor Leste as well as ease Australia’s agricultural worker shortages and build a strong public service that delivers better outcomes for the community.
ParentsNext: The Government will abolish the ParentsNext program from 1 July 2024 and develop a replacement, voluntary service which better meets the needs of parents and carers. All compulsory elements of the program were lifted on 5 May 2023.
Y Careers: The Government will provide a grant opportunity of $15.2 million to support the establishment of Y Careers agency, to help tackle the youth unemployment rate. It will support up to 15,000 young people to pursue meaningful careers and provide employers with access to a new pipeline of talent within priority industries, with a focus on the care economy.
Extending Time to Work Employment Service: The Government will provide $5.7 million over two years from 2022–23 to support First Nations people who are incarcerated in non-remote prisons. This will help them connect with employment services and move from prison to paid work, thanks to an extension of the Time to Work Employment Service to 30 June 2024.
Broome Employment Region: The Government is providing $5.6 million over five years from 2022–23 to provide continuity of employment services in the Broome Employment Region. This will ensure services will continue, once the only Workforce Australia Services provider in the region exits the market later this year.
Support for a net zero economy: The Government will enhance the Local Jobs Program to ensure it has the flexibility to respond with the support that local communities need as we shift to a net zero economy. Four employment regions will receive additional on-the-ground resources to plan for and optimise future opportunities.
The Australian Government is building on its Secure Jobs, Better Pay reforms to further modernise Australia’s workplace relations system. This Budget will improve workplace safety, introduce better protections for Pacific Island workers and help more job seekers find secure jobs.
The measures in this Budget centre on improving workplace safety.
Tackling silicosis: The Government will provide an extra $10 million to tackle silicosis, including expanding the functions of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency to include silicosis and silica-related diseases. We will also support Safe Work Australia social partners to engage in national awareness and behaviour change initiatives. This investment is in addition to the measures announced earlier this year – in partnership with the states and territories – including consideration of a ban on engineered stone products.
National Construction Industry Forum: The Government will provide $4.4 million to establish the National Construction Industry Forum, which will provide advice on key challenges facing the building and construction industry, including workplace safety, culture, skills, productivity and gender equality. The Forum will commence after July 2023.
Work Health and Safety support: The Government will provide $2 million over two years to support new Commonwealth Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations on managing psychosocial hazards at work. Funding will go towards educating the providers who train Health and Safety Representatives to perform their statutory functions in relation to psychosocial hazards.
Productivity, Education and Training Fund: The Government is providing additional funding of $20 million over two years from 2023–24 for the Productivity, Education and Training Fund grant program. The funding will support eligible employer and worker representative organisations to engage with workplace reforms as they progress. It will also allow them to implement practical education and other activities to embed new laws in Australian workplaces.
The Government will also provide $760,000 to support a review of modern awards, to be conducted by the Fair Work Commission.
Review of policies and programs to ensure quality spending
This Budget identified the following responsible savings measures to ensure quality spending which is being redirected to other portfolio measures:
- $111.6 million over four years from 2023–24 by reducing the annual place allocation for the Self Employment Assistance Small Business Coaching program from 12,000 to 10,000 places to more accurately reflect utilisation of places.
- $27.5 million over four years from 2023–24 by temporarily reducing uncommitted Industry Workforce Training Program funding.
- $22.8 million over four years from 2023–24 by ceasing the Entrepreneurship Facilitators program from 1 July 2023.
- $20 million in saves from the Jobs and Skills Councils Program over the forward estimates, managed through a temporary reduction in discretionary funding.
- $15.8 million over four years from 2023–24 by reducing the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s departmental resourcing by 2.5 per cent.
- $10.4 million over two years from 2022–23 by ceasing the Accelerating Australian Apprenticeships Pilot program
- $1.1 million in 2023–24 by ceasing the Career Revive program on 30 June 2023.
Employment and Workplace Relations 2023–24 Portfolio Budget Statements
The Employment and Workplace Relations 2023–24 Portfolio Budget Statements provides government expenditure estimates for the 2023–24 budget year. The PBS was tabled in Parliament on 9 May 2023.
Albanese Government delivering for workers - the Hon Tony Burke MP, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Skilling and training Australians for a stronger economy and a better future - The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP, Minister for Skills and Training