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Albanese unveils free TAFE training package to open jobs summit


An additional 180,000 fee-free TAFE places will be created by 2023 as part of a major training package launched at the Albanese Government’s jobs and skills summit.

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told attendees at the summit on Thursday the $1.1 billion package would be jointly funded by federal, state and territory governments.

He said Australians needed to gain the skills they needed to get good jobs.

“I want this to be the beginning, not the end, of progress we see on skills over the next two days,” he said.

In a joint statement ahead of the summit, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Business Council of Australia called for Commonwealth paid parental leave benefits to be boosted to 26 weeks from 18.

The business and union groups also called for superannuation to be paid on the leave benefit and for incentives to be included to encourage both parents to share the entitlement.

As well as efforts to improve women’s participation in the workforce, the ACTU and the BCA also want an authority to support coal and gas workers through the clean energy transition.

The groups agreed on the need to improve pathways to permanent residency for temporary visa holders and that training domestic workers should be prioritised ahead of migration.

Both also want the Fair Work Act to be reformed so it is “simpler, fairer, and more accessible”.

“We’re pleased to have worked with the ACTU to find common ground ahead of the summit,” Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“We don’t agree on everything but where we can find solutions, of course we should.”

Speaking at a BCA dinner on Wednesday evening, Albanese said the two-day summit was just the beginning.

“We view the summit – and the more than 100 roundtables and consultations that have been held around the country in the lead-up – as a focal point and a foundation,” he said.

He said progress was already evident, with unions and business groups “taking it upon themselves to seek out common ground and agree on shared principles”.

“Of course, these conversations don’t end on Friday and they’re not confined to a room in Canberra.”

Day one will feature a panel discussion on the future of bargaining to deliver higher wages that will feature representatives from unions and business.

The first day will also touch on participation of women in the workforce and the job-creating potential of the clean energy transition.

Skilling up workers for the jobs of the future is also on the summit agenda, with a new report showing skill sets needed in the modern job market are changing rapidly.

A LinkedIn report found skill sets for jobs had changed by 25 per cent in the past six years and the pace of change was expected to accelerate by 44 per cent in 2025.

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