Local business and government leaders are meeting today to generate innovative ideas and practical actions to grow the skilled workforce in the Great Southern region, as Albany today hosts the last event in a series of 10 Regional Skills Summits that have been hosted by the WA State Government since August this year. Strong industry representation throughout the Regional Skills Summits has seen total attendance for the series reach more than 350, and this final event fulfils the State Government's commitment to take their skills summits statewide before Christmas.
Around 40 government and regional business leaders from a range of sectors are attending today’s summit including the Great Southern region’s biggest employing industries of agriculture, forestry and fishing; healthcare and social assistance; retail; education and training; and construction. Insights from today's summit will form the basis of a local action plan to meet the region’s unique workforce needs.
Recognising the importance of training to build a skilled workforce and retain people in regional areas, the State Government has been working to ensure its investment in training initiatives reaches all corners of the State.
- Great Southern locals are snapping up affordable training opportunities offered through the State Government’s Lower fees, local skills (LFLS) initiative, with a 17 per cent increase in LFLS enrolments in the region this year.
- Employers have responded by taking on more apprentices and trainees in the region in 2021, with commencements up by more than 98 per cent in the 12 months to 30 September 2021.
The State Government recently expanded the LFLS program by a further 30 courses from 2022, to include a total of 210 courses with heavily reduced course fees in priority industry areas including hospitality, healthcare, construction, retail and others. Workers in industries that have a critical need to upskill workers – including childcare, aged and disability care, and civil construction – will be able to access low fee existing worker traineeship places to help meet the skills needs of these sectors.
The new initiatives respond to workforce issues raised by industry leaders at the Perth and regional skills summits held to date, and are jointly funded through a $103.5 million agreement between the State and Commonwealth governments under the expanded JobTrainer Fund agreement. Other initiatives progressing from the Perth Skills Summit include:
- attracting onshore skilled migrants to fill jobs in demand in WA;
- supporting mature age apprentices;
- promoting the tourism and hospitality industry to school students to grow the workforce;
- extending the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Reengagement Incentive;
- freezing regional Government rental accommodation to attract public sector workers to the regions; and
- boosting Aboriginal youth employment opportunities.
The State Government is also providing support for jobseekers experiencing disadvantage to obtain a driver’s licence; progressing targeted advertising campaigns to attract interstate workers and increase participation of under-represented groups in WA; has smoothed the pipeline of construction work, and run the series of 10 Regional Skills Summits wrapping up in Albany today. Fostering strong links between regional TAFE colleges and government, industry and the education sector, the VET Regional Partnerships Program also continues to grow. With a focus on creating more apprenticeships and traineeships in regional WA, the Program supports the Government’s plan to increase the number of jobs in regional WA by 30,000.
“Today’s Regional Skills Summit in Albany completes a thorough, State-wide examination of the unique skills needs of regional WA.“ said Eduation and Training Minister Sue Ellery. "Our Government has now heard directly from industries across the State about their ideas to increase the capability of their local workforces and to fill local jobs".