Employment Minister Michaelia Cash’s comments this morning on the closure of Holden demonstrate that she has no understanding of the skills needed to participate in global value chains, the key to success in advanced manufacturing.
The Minister’s unsubstantiated assertions that $30 million in grants to 20 businesses in Victoria and South Australia means that ‘the future is a positive one’ shows her lack of understanding of the challenges Australia faces.
If our industries are to compete in the international market the skills of our workforce need to be improved. This will require a more effective skills system, but the Turnbull government has no such plan for skills.
Labor will invest in TAFE, and in the skills and apprenticeships that are a key contributor to an innovative and successful manufacturing sector. This is urgently needed.
A recent OECD report on Skills and Global Value Chains shows that Australia is lagging badly when it comes to skill development and this is affecting our ability to participate in global value chains.
In table after table Australia ranks at or near the bottom of all OECD countries on skills metrics that contribute to growth and exports.
Australia receives a zero score in “aligning skills characteristics with the skills requirements of high-tech manufacturing and complex business services industries”. (p.114)
Australia “has a poor alignment of their skills characteristics…with the requirements of technologically advanced industries” (p.108). We are in the bottom quarter of countries “Developing skills to face the challenges of GVCs.” (p.21)
Yet the government sees no urgency for action. It is now more than three months since the national partnership agreement on skills expired. There is currently no funding agreement in place to replace it.
The government’s proposed funding mechanism, the Skilling Australians Fund, has been widely derided as unworkable, inadequate and insecure.
Minister Cash is completely out of her depth on these questions. Her unsubstantiated rhetoric is no substitute for actual policy and investment.