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Current and future skills needs

Terms of Reference (Word 32KB)


Committee membership

Public Hearings

On 23 October 2002 the Senate referred an inquiry into current and future skills needs to the Employment, Workplace Relations and Education References Committee. The committee will table the report on 6 November 2003.

Skills shortages are a constraint on innovation in industries reliant on skilled labour. At a time when unemployment remains unacceptably high, skill shortages also represent a waste of human potential. The Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Committee wants to identify current and future areas of skills shortages. It will investigate whether current training programs are building a genuine skills base supporting a flexible labour market, or whether they are functioning more as wage subsidy programs with an emphasis on lower order or company-specific skills. It will also investigate the capacity of Job Network and other parts of the employment system to match skills availability with labour market needs. The Committee looks forward to consulting a wide range of industry representatives, VET and other training providers, government, union and community representatives.

The committee invites individuals or organisations wishing to express views on some or all of the terms of reference to lodge written submissions. Submissions should be lodged before the end of March 2003. Those wishing to be considered for inclusion in the public hearing program commencing from late March 2003, should notify the secretariat as soon as possible of their intention to make a submission.**

Submissions should conclude all contact details, including mailing address, telephone and fax and email address if applicable and should be submitted electronically (Microsoft Word version 6.0 - 95 or above) and e-mailed to, alternatively, they can be posted to:

For further details on making a submission to a Senate inquiry please contact secretariat secretary John Carter on (02)6277 3520 or see "How to make a submission to a Senate Committee inquiry".

Hearings and Round Table Meetings

The committee will hear evidence both at formal hearings and round table meetings. Witnesses at hearings will be selected from among those individuals and organisations making submissions, in the usual way. Witnesses are normally allocated a 45 minute timeslot in which to respond to questions.

The committee also intends to host roundtable meetings in conjunction with formal hearings. These are recorded by Hansard and form part of the official evidence to the inquiry. As the committee’s experience with its 2002 small business employment inquiry showed, there is advantage in providing for a more informal and freer exchange of ideas and opinions, allowing the committee to test the weight of evidence and opinion among a range of interested parties. Participants in round table discussions do not need to make formal submissions, although we would be pleased to receive them.

The committee’s preliminary research for the current inquiry suggests that the factors which may determine the demand and supply of skills show considerable variation among industries and occupations, and in regard to training capacity and regional location. The committee is considering using roundtables to explore specific issues, or aspects of an issue: for instance, skill shortages in a particular industry or set of industries. Attendance at each roundtable could reflect those with an interest in the issue in question. The secretariat will be consulting regional networks and other interest groups in order to identify key players. We would also be pleased to receive suggestions from interested parties: key industry and training networks or organisations, and regional bodies. The secretariat has already begun to contact relevant organisations and authorities directly.

** Margaret Blood (on 02 6277 3524) will have principal carriage of inquiry research, with assistance from Loes Slattery (02 6277 3546).

The committee expects to visit all states and territories. There is a link at the top of this page that lists the public hearings and roundtable discussions, with the relevant program when available.

Report - Tabled 6 November 2003

Government Response - Tabled 12 May 2009