Having written a blog prior to all of the announcements it was interesting to see what played out in the South Australian budget, how integrated the measures are and lessons for the Future Jobs Fund.
Here are some of the highlights,
Defence Industry Development
The program delivers the state’s workforce development commitments to the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) project, including the Maritime Skills Centre and the integration of defence industry skills into whole-of-state workforce development planning and implementation initiatives. The Maritime Skills Centre will transfer to the Commonwealth Government in 2017–18.
Investment in new initiatives will occur with the Stage 3 Redevelopment of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, construction of two new operating theatres at FMC, expansion of Lyell McEwin Hospital Emergency Department, the relocation from Oakden and development of an Emergency Extended Care Unit at the Modbury Hospital. Planning will commence on the new Women’s Hospital to be constructed adjacent to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Optimise the government’s international engagement efforts to deliver trade and investment outcomes in South Australia by establishing a French presence in conjunction with the Office of the Agent-General, to maximise business and cultural opportunities between South Australia and France.
Continue to raise the profile of South Australia amongst corporate decision makers and persons of influence in order to capture a greater share of United Kingdom and European foreign direct investment projects.
Support visits by the Premier and ministers to the United Kingdom and Europe.
Continue to facilitate, expand and mobilise the South Australia Club in the United Kingdom to promote the state’s interests.
Deliver an integrated international program that will maximise awareness and enhance market access for Premium Food and Wine in target markets.
It would be fantastic to see visibility all of the delegations and business missions, inbound and outbound across the public and private sectors for the whole state, as so much more could be made of these opportunities.
In terms of regional development it is encouraging to see the target to,
Assist in identifying skill gaps in the regions with a view to retaining and improving the regional skill base.
State Development is where much of the focus and investment sits covering the automotive supply chain and Northern Economic Plan, defence, disability, renewable energy and infrastructure sectors.
Having worked on the joint funded Local Government Association and Libraries Board workforce strategy it is excellent to see it being implemented.
Training, Employment, Skills and Higher Education
For, 2016-17 Estimated Result/2015-16 Actual there is a $2.4 million decrease in expenses primarily due to:
- Improved targeting of training across the vocational education and training sector ($8.0 million)…
However this decline may be due to the Elephant in the room for Australia’s VET sector and that Training Packages (VET’s product) is not keeping up with workforce requirements and jobs. Interestingly, TAFE NSW’s boss believes that self-accreditation will help meet industry demand.
Encouraging to see that a target for 2017-18 is to:
- Improve understanding of workforce needs, including through direct engagement with stakeholders to better target employment, skill development and training initiatives, particularly in regional areas.
But if the South Australian State Government wishes to, “Improve responsiveness to the needs of employers, students and job seekers through refining Jobs First employment projects and introducing WorkReady qualifications quotas and projects” then this must include working outside of Training Packages and qualifications for current, emerging and future capabilities.
Future Jobs Fund
The $200 million Future Jobs Fund provides $50 million in grants and $70 million in low interest loans in 5 key sectors:
- Shipbuilding and defence
- Renewable energy and mining
- Tourism, food and wine
- Health and biomedical research
- IT and advanced manufacturing
There are six observations on this fund:
- Victoria has a Future Industries Fund of $200 million with a broader reach across sectors and SMEs – the name sounds similar and why would South Australia narrow in when job creation is essential across the board? Also, the balance between grants and loans doesn’t seem logical – let’s see what interest there is in the loan opportunities.
- Funding to build the business case of up to $50 000 is a good first step before developing an application, however with the Workforce Training Innovation Fund (WTIF) in Victoria there has been many more seed applications than full applications. This Victorian fund is much more flexible and encourages innovative, new approaches.
- The Regional Skills Fund through Regional Development Victoria aims to facilitate job creation and retain existing jobs with matched funding (which has been challenging to find). How will the Future Jobs Fund deal with regional application across multiple sectors when jobs in regions are so important? And matched funding?
- Australian Apprenticeships supported through the Job Accelerator Grant Scheme (with up to $15 000 for each new apprentice employed) is a number 1 priority – but what about School Based Apprenticeships as they won’t meet the 22 hours/week minimum requirement?
- The Subsidised Training List 3.0 effective from 1 July 2017 is out of whack with workforce demand and priorities nor is it congruent with other measures such as supporting Australian Apprenticeships.
- A simple improvement to encourage applications would be a download of the grant application questions rather than straight into an online form.
Keen to hear your feedback and ideas on the South Australian State Budget, other states/territories budgets and funding levers, thank you.