Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow—Government’s response to the Joyce Review

The recent 2019–20 Budget was a vehicle for the Government to announce its response to the Expert review of Australia's vocational education and training system (Joyce Review) of vocational education and training (VET): the $525.3 million Skills Package—Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow.

This FlagPost outlines the key features of the review and the Government’s response.

The Joyce Review

The Joyce Review was commissioned in November 2018 to report by the end of March 2019. According to its terms of reference, its objective was to:

focus on how the Australian Government’s investment in VET could be more effective to provide Australians with the skills they need to be successful throughout their working life. It will also focus on ensuring Australian businesses, including small and family businesses and businesses in rural and regional areas, have the skills they need to support their business growth. 

Strengthening Skills Expert Review of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training System (the Joyce Report), released on 2 April 2019, contains 71 recommendations to: strengthen quality assurance; speed up qualification development; simplify funding and skills matching; improve careers information; clarify secondary school pathways; and provide greater access for disadvantaged Australians (p. 2).

The media release issued by Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Senator Michaelia Cash, in response to the Joyce Review, does not indicate if the Government accepted all of the Joyce Report’s recommendations. However, the review includes a number of actions that could be adopted by the Australian Government in the immediate term (p. 2), which, as discussed below, provide a basis for most of the Skills Package.

A new architecture

To begin work on the first four of the above issues, the Joyce Report recommends positioning the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) as the single national VET regulator, and creating three new bodies:

  • a National Skills Commission (NSC), with responsibility to work out course subsidy levels with state and territory governments, and allocate all Commonwealth VET funding on behalf of the Minister
  • a National Careers Institute (NCI), to improve career advice across tertiary education and
  • Skills Organisations (SOs), to bring more industry experience to the task of developing qualifications compared with current arrangements.

The Budget includes:

  • $48.3 million to establish the NSC and National Skills Commissioner—the model for these will be subject to negotiation with the VET sector and states and territories
  • $41.7 million to pilot new industry-owned SOs in the growth areas of human services and digital technologies
  • $42.4 million to establish the NCI and Careers Ambassador to bring together information about VET options for young people, job seekers, people looking to change careers, and those in a career transition and
  • $6.1 million for a VET Information Strategy to be implemented by the NCI.

No funding for changes to ASQA is included in the Budget.

VET in rural and remote Australia

The Joyce Report acknowledges that the Regional Education Expert Advisory Group has responsibility for advising Government on the ongoing education and training needs of regional, rural and remote communities, but cites stakeholder concern about access to VET in rural and remote Australia, and recommends the extension of the university-based regional study hubs to VET.

The Budget includes:  

  • $67.5 million to trial 10 national Industry Training Hubs, which would support school-based VET in regions with high youth unemployment and
  • $8.2 million for a Commonwealth Scholarships Program for Young Australians.

Foundation skills

The Joyce Report recommends early action to provide ‘new support for second chance learners needing foundation language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills’.

The Budget includes $62.4 million to establish the Foundation Skills for Your Future program to support people who are currently employed or recently unemployed, to identify any literacy, numeracy and digital literacy needs and where appropriate, access training, including $9.9 million for four Indigenous delivery pilots in remote communities.


The Joyce Report identifies difficulties attracting candidates and complexities in the current Australian Apprenticeship Incentives Program (AAIP), and recommends early action ‘revamping and simplifying apprenticeship incentives to increase their attractiveness to employers and trainees’.

The Budget includes:

  • $156.3 million to establish a new Additional Identified Skills Shortage Payment available to employers and apprentices for up to 80,000 new apprenticeships in occupations experiencing national skill shortages and
  • $44 million to revise arrangements for the AAIP.

Additional commitments

The Skills Package also includes a number of other commitments that do not specifically respond to the recommendations contained in the Joyce Report:

  • $1.8 million for the third phase of the Jobs and Education Data Infrastructure Project, which, according to the Department of Education and Training (DET), will ‘develop a new tool to … allow tertiary education providers to identify skill mismatches, and tailor their course offerings to meet demand’
  • $15.8 million to expand the Unique Student Identifier to all higher education students
  • $2.5 million to develop a centralised repository for students’ education and training records
  • $0.4 million for the National Rugby League’s VET Apprenticeship Awareness Program and
  • $34.2 million in 2018–19 for the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) to make up the shortfall in revenue from the levy which, under the terms of the National Partnership Agreement for the SAF, is the source of a portion of the Australian Government’s payments to the states and territories. Although Budget Paper No. 1 (p. 4-14) shows an estimated shortfall of $126 million for the four years to 2022–23, there is no provision to address this after 2018–19.

Table 1: Skills Package—Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow budgeted expenses, $ million

  2018–19 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22 2022–23 Total
National Skills Commission - 12.139 12.121 11.727 12.325 48.312
Pilot Skills Organisations - 11.93 12.898 9.82 7.039 41.687
National Careers Institute - 9.925 8.71 8.866 8.763 36.264
VET Information Strategy - 1.925 1.96 1.153 1.069 6.107
Industry Training Hubs - 1.845 16.113 15.212 17.388 50.558
Energising Tasmania           17(a)
Commonwealth Scholarships - 2.882 2.648 2.648 - 8.178
Foundation Language, Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Literacy Skills - 10.011 18.78 18.843 14.739 62.373
Additional Identified Skills Shortage Payment - 1.62 18.689 49.484 86.498 156.291
Simplified and streamlined incentives for Australian Apprentices - 1.191 1.893 15.363 25.511 43.958
Jobs and Education Data Infrastructure - 1.591 0.201 - - 1.792
Unique Student Identifier - 1.973 5.587 4.793 3.472 15.825
Tertiary Learning Repository - 2.165 0.067 0.102 0.138 2.472
National Rugby League VET Apprenticeship Awareness Program - 0.35 - - - 0.35
Skilling Australians Fund 34.2 - - - - 34.2
Total 34.2 59.547 99.667 138.011 176.942 525.367

Source: Department of Education and Training (DET), Response to letter of 3 April 2019 from Senator Gavin Marshall, Deputy Chair Senate Education and Employment Committee, 5 April 2019.  

(a) The DET response to Senator Marshall indicates $67.5 million over five years from 2018–19 for the Industry Training Hubs mentioned in the DET Portfolio Budget Statements 2019–20 (p.13) includes $17 million still subject to Government announcement. On 9 April 2019, Senator Cash issued a media release announcing $17 million for the Energising Tasmania initiative, to cover upfront course costs for priority training in Tasmania. Detailed costings for this initiative have not been published.   

Funding sources

The Skills Package is ‘partially funded by redirecting unallocated funding from the SAF and other vocational Education portfolio programs’ (Budget Paper No. 2, p. 70). Table 2 below provides a breakdown of the funding redirections. New funding of $54.5 million has been provided.

Table 2: Skills Package Funding Sources, $ million 

  2018–19  2019–20  2020–21  2021–22  2022–23  Total 
SAF underspend redirection 134.8 106 110.9 111.3 0 463
Commonwealth Scholarship South Australia redirection 4.2 2.5 1.1 - - 7.8
New funding           54.5
Total           525.3

Source: DET, Response to letter of 3 April 2019 from Senator Gavin Marshall, Deputy Chair Senate Education and Employment Committee, 5 April 2019.  

Stakeholder reaction

The National Apprentice Employment Network (NAEN) ‘cautiously welcomed’ the Skills Package in a post–Budget media release, in particular the creation of the NCI and changes to the AAIP. 

TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) has been critical of the Skills Package, stating in a media release that the new arrangements recommended in the Joyce Report will be difficult to negotiate with the states and territories in the context of the redirection of funding from the SAF, which was the major VET announcement in the 2017–18 Budget and 2018–19 Budget


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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