Education AND Skilled Migration are both answers to Australia’s skills shortage

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    By David Jenkins

    The Federal Government recently addressed Australia’s skills shortage by increasing the number of permanent migration visas from 160,000 to 195,000 places this financial year.

    That is a positive move, but the Prime Minister is also 100% correct when he says that skilled migration is only a part of the answer.

    To address the skills shortage and improve Australia’s languishing productivity requires a major investment in people who are already in the Australian workforce, and who have the foundations of skills which can be further enhanced and developed.

    The Government’s focus on TAFE training and apprenticeships is also positive, but there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of professionals who are already in the workforce who can improve their skills and who can make a more immediate impact on lifting national productivity.

    At the recent Jobs and Skills Summit, accountancy organisation CPA Australia struck the right chord with calls for Government funding for education and training of older workers.

    “We want free or highly subsided vocational training in areas of crucial short term need, to increase the labour pool and reduce skills shortages,” CPA Australia chief executive Andrew Hunter told the summit.

    “We need to encourage more people to complete courses in areas of skills shortages. This won’t solve the current skills shortage, but it’ll set Australia up for long term success.”

    The CPA view is one which can be easily applied to many other professions, including asset management.

    IPWEA is a strong advocate for building capacity through continuous professional education and training. Asset managers are vital long term stewards for the infrastructure which the Australian community relies on and uses on a daily basis, so an investment in their capacity to deliver is also an investment in the capacity of our nation.

    In our view, the Government should be subsiding training for the IPWEA Asset Management Pathway. Professional bodies such as IPWEA have strong track records in professional education, and should be trusted with public funds to deliver programs which will ultimately be to the public benefit.

    Governments are used to earmarking funds for stimulus measures to give momentum to economic activity, but there needs to be a shift in thinking on what can potentially constitute stimulus.

    Carving off a section of stimulus funds for professional organisations to enhance the skills of their members should also be seen by our lawmakers as an investing in the national capability which will pay a productivity dividend, and sooner rather than later.

    Another positive move in our asset management space would be for the Government to consider IPWEA’s micro credentials as it channels the influx of skilled migrants. IPWEA’s AM Pathway courses are recognised internationally and there is a growing cohort of alumni who could make a contribution to the Australian economy if they were offered a seamless migration pathway.

    In and around the Jobs and Skills Summit there was an ongoing debate on the comparative merits of immigration or education as a solution to Australia’s skills shortages.

    IPWEA’s contention is that it is not an exclusive choice between the two, both are part of the solution.

    So far, the Government is only focussing on one aspect of education. If they widened their view to include professional organisations such as IPWEA our view is that it would add to the momentum not just in assessment management, but through the wider economy as well.

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