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‘These are the facts’: PM’s warning to Aussie workers

Lucy Dean
·3-min read
 Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference.
Scott Morrison has issued a prediction for Australian workers. Image: Getty

Australian workers will need to “regularly reskill” to keep up with the speed of change in a digital economy, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday.

Laying out his plan to make Australia one of the world’s strongest digital economies over the coming decade, Morrison said workers will have an important role to play in the transition.

He said the Federal Budget invests in Australian workers’ skills so that businesses can access the skills they need to succeed, and so that Australians can remain in work “well into the future”.

“The digital economy is central to these tasks, to creating the jobs that Australians need. The speed of change in the digital economy means that our training system needs to be fast and responsive,” he told The Australian’s e-commerce summit.

“The pace of technological change means people are more likely to need to regularly reskill. These are the facts.”

Research from AlphaBeta reveals Australians will need to spend an extra three hours per week on education and training by 2040 - or an increase of 33 per cent over their lifetime. Much of this education will come later in life as workers need to reskill and upskill.

Citing this research, Morrison said “learning never stops”.

“That's why we are undertaking ambitious skills reforms to ensure our vocational education and training system is responsive, forward looking, dynamic, trusted.”

The Government in September announced $800 million would be invested in helping businesses take advantage of digital technologies, and in March announced it would carry out Skills Organisation Pilots aimed at connecting industry needs with training providers. The three pilots established in March were in digital technology, human services and mining sectors.

A National Skills Commission will also analyse the labour market and identify the future skills shortages.

“We have two stories happening simultaneously now here in Australia, an economy that is experiencing the worst set of economic circumstances since the Great Depression, devastating and ferocious adaptation that businesses have engaged in to keep these circumstances at bay, and their effects,” Morrison said.

Australians already upskilling

The upskilling revolution is already underway, with Westpac and Lonergan research finding that Australians are already learning new skills, just for fun.

The research found a third of upskillers learnt a new skill as an investment in their career, while a similar amount did so to pursue a new career and 45 per cent studied for their own personal satisfaction.

SEEK insights provided to Yahoo Finance also reveal that two-in-three job seekers are interested in reskilling, upskilling or retraining in the coming six months.

Additionally, half of SEEK’s survey respondents are very interested in or already committed to completing short, Government-subsidised courses in areas targeted as in-demand.

The same study found 45 per cent would prefer to do a short course, while 16 per cent would complete a university degree.

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