A FEDERAL government skills fund must be responsive to the evolving workforce needs of the resource industry and not discriminate by organisational size, according to a new AMMA discussion paper.

Provided to the Department of Industry in relation to the establishment of the $476 million Industry Skills Fund, the AMMA discussion paper outlines a range of concerns and recommendations, based on consultation with resource employers.

The formation of an Industry Skills Fund is part of the Australian Government’s National Industry and Competitiveness Agenda. Due to commence on 1 January 2015, the fund aims to assist industry to access training and support services and is proposed to prioritise micro, small and medium enterprises.

“The industry is inherently subjected to market forces, and it is these market forces that generate economic growth, job creation and influence labour force skills sets,” AMMA’s discussion paper reads.

“The fund needs to be agile and must promote training outcomes towards current and future industry demands.

“These industry demands that influence individual skill sets for the jobs of today and tomorrow apply irrespective to the size of an organisation that an employee may work in.

“AMMA is concerned that if the fund focuses on, or skews co-contribution funding in favour of micro, small and medium enterprises, it escalates the risk of funding being allocated and invested into organisations which may not deliver the optimum levels of labour productivity and international competitiveness.”

To ensure funding is responsive to the skills needs of all organisations within priority areas including mining equipment, technology, services and oil and gas, AMMA recommends:

  • There is an equal playing field for all organisations regardless of size;
  • There is parity (dollar for dollar approach) in the co-contribution between industry and the Government; and
  • Prioritisation of the Fund is be based on merit and the Government’s immediate priority areas.

AMMA also outlines recommendations in relation to the minimum criteria to access funding, payments for services, and data reporting.

The AMMA discussion paper on the Establishment of the Industry Skills Fund is available to read online.

For more information, please contact AMMA senior industry policy adviser Tristan Menalda via [email protected] or (03) 9614 4777.

Note: As part of the federal government’s skills agenda, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane yesterday announced three new programs targeting youth employment and apprenticeship support. Read more on these programs here.