01 Nov Boost for the Literacy and Numeracy Sector
On 16 October, National Cabinet signed a landmark 5-year National Skills Agreement with states and territories. This is the first National Skills Agreement in more than a decade and starts from 1 January 2024. It aims to strengthen vocational education and training and address national priorities such as the urgent need to build skills to support Gender Equality, Foundation Skills, Closing the Gap and the Net Zero transformation.
The Agreement “provides states and territories with access to additional Commonwealth funds of up to $3.7 billion over 5 years. This takes total Commonwealth investment in state and territory training systems to up to $12.6 billion over 5 years”.
What does this mean for the literacy/numeracy sector?
Foundation Skills is one of the key areas of focus in the National Skills Agreement. This commitment is explained in a fact sheet entitled Ensuring Access to Foundation Skills Training. Initiatives and approaches include:
- A “no wrong door” experience for learners
- Support for states and territories to provide no or low-fee access to training through their VET and/or Adult and Community Education (ACE) or equivalent providers
- The development of a 10-year national foundation skills strategy which may include support for the foundation skills workforce, investment in foundations skills training resources, cooperative work on foundation skills assessment tools, and a national suite of activities to better reach groups with diverse and complex needs.
- Investing up to $142 million over five years to improve foundation skills training quality and access (including up to $77 million for foundation skills training through the Adult and Community Education sector, or equivalent). This is in addition to the funding announced in this year’s Budget of $436 million over four years for the redesigned Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program.
Another major development for the literacy/numeracy sector is the federal government’s development of a vocational education and training workforce blueprint by early 2024 to address the teacher shortage. As well, all governments will develop public “skills plans” setting out how they will deliver on agreed priorities and targets.
As evidenced in the Reading Writing Hotline’s recently published national study, Uncovering Adult Literacy and Numeracy Needs in Australia, the shortage of qualified literacy and numeracy teachers is now an urgent issue. The VET workforce blueprint and State and Territory “skills plans” provide an opportunity to implement initiatives and incentives to build the adult literacy and numeracy workforce and reinvigorate literacy and numeracy provision across Australia.
For more information on the National Skills Agreement see:
The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations site has detailed fact sheets on each of the key elements of the agreement.
The joint statement by the PM and Minister O’Connor
The Conversation by Pi-Shen Seet, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Edith Cowan University, and Janice Jones, Associate Professor at the College of Business, Government and Law at Flinders University.
TAFE Directors Australia’s media release.
CIT Automotive Teacher Richard Lindsay, CIT Interim CEO Christine Robertson, Minister O’Connor and CIT Chair Kate Lundy at the Canberra Institute of Technology on Tuesday 17 October. CIT News 19 October 2023