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Gov pledges $5 million to create tech skills passport

03 June 2022

A returned Coalition government will spend $5 million developing a technology skills passport that will act a single record of a person’s university and VET qualifications.

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Justin Hendry

Will act as single record of qualifications.

A returned Coalition government will spend $5 million developing a technology skills passport that will act a single record of a person’s university and VET qualifications.

Employment minister Stuart Robert announced the passport on Tuesday, with the aim of “open[ing] pathways for Australians to get a job in the fast-growing technology sector”.

The government plans to partner with the Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) to develop the passport should it win the federal election.

ATN, which consists of Curtin University, Deakin University, RMIT, University of Newcastle, UniSA and UTS, said the passport will “help workers match their existing skills and experience with the needs of the tech sector”.

It plans to co-design the passport and recognise skills in concert with vocation education providers and industry.

Robert said the passport aligned with work already underway to create an integrated tertiary system by “providing a single point of entry for Australia to ‘rack and stack’ credentials”.

“Where there are skills gaps to fill, we want Australians to have the first crack at getting that opportunity and our skills passport approach will enable rapid upskilling and reskilling,” he said.

“These investments will mean more skilled workers, lower unemployment, and a stronger future not just for apprentices and trainees, but for Australia.”

ATN chair professor Iain Martin said the initiative answers the peak body’s calls for the government to partner with universities and industry to deliver solutions that address Australia skills needs.

ATN estimates around 300,000 new tech workers will be needed by 2025, and “12,000 university and VET graduates and 60,000 upskilled and reskilled workers more than we are… preparing”.

“A three-way partnership between universities, industry and the government is crucial to delivering better outcomes for industry, workers and the economy,” Martin said.

Australian Information Industry Association general manager of policy and advisory Simon Bush welcomed the annoucement, having “publicly called for a more seamless way employers can acquire and record skills for the tech sector”.

“Micro credentials and stackable digital badging are important tools to upskill our tech workforce and give employers visibility and confidence of capability and that is why we built the AIIA Skills Hub so we welcome this announcement,” he said.

Business Council of Australia described the digital skills passport as a “critical step towards a more modern skills system that ensures workers can take advantage of big economic changes”

“The BCA has long called for a skills passport system because that makes it easier for Australians to build their own qualifications and get the jobs they want,” its CEO Jennifer Westacott said.

“For the digital sector, this will help employers match with the right workers with the right skills. We hope this is the starting point for a skills passport system for all Australians.”

Labor has pledged to help create 340,000 new tech jobs by 2030, using a combination of TAFE and university placements, in line with the Tech Council’s goal of reaching 1.2 million jobs.

The Tech Council of Australia have been contacted for comment.