The Australia-China Free Trade Agreement may be making headlines for the political debate around foreign labour, but that’s not stopping the two nations from preparing for a more united future through collaborations on skills and training.
The June signing of a free trade agreement between Australia and our largest trading partner, China, signalled the beginning of a new era of significant trade and investment opportunities for both nations.
While the deal has suffered a setback due to politicking and union campaigns against skilled labour aspects of the deal, both nations have nonetheless already begun advancing their vocational education and training (VET) relationship and learning from each other’s experiences in skills development.
Taking place in Beijing, the recent Australia- China Strategic Policy Dialogue on Vocational Education and Training 2015 hosted government and industry representatives to share knowledge and best-practice in skills development.
Joining an Australian Government delegation at the meeting, AMMA executive director Tara Diamond spoke on the challenges and opportunities in the globalisation of skilled labour.
Ms Diamond represented Australia on a panel in her capacity as a member of the Federal Government’s Australian Industry and Skills Committee and VET Advisory Board, which is tasked with leading reform of Australia’s VET system.
Along with representatives from Chinese multinational firms, she addressed the skills ‘mismatch’ in multiple labour markets, similarities in technical skills needs, impacts on training systems, and the potential for regional occupational standards.
“The forum offered an important opportunity for dialogue between Australia and our largest trading partner,” Ms Diamond said.
“As Australia and China become even closer in trade, and labour becomes more globally mobile, it is important to have a mutual understanding of each nation’s future skills needs, and discuss opportunities to genuinely collaborate on global skills initiatives.
“I spoke with the Chinese business and education community at length about the experiences of Australian resource employers operating in both domestic and international markets, and the workforce strategies that are supporting our world-class projects.”
Chair of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee, John Pollaers, delivered a keynote presentation and participated in a roundtable with key business representatives Shanghai to discuss the skills challenges facing business in China.
“Australia’s VET system is internationally recognised as delivering high quality training that is linked to the needs of industry. The Australian Industry and Skills Committee is focused on ensuring the needs of Australian employers continue to be met by the training system, and that Australian training continues to be valued internationally,” Mr Pollaers said.
“Industry in China faces similar challenges to what we face in Australia – an aging population, wage pressures and rising costs.
“Ensuring a highly skilled and productive workforce, with industry-relevant skills will be vital to continued economic growth in both countries.
“As a result of this visit, both governments have agreed to further cooperation on vocational education and training, including on approaches to industry engagement.”
Mr Pollaers believes the strengthened government engagement, along with the China-Australia free trade agreement, would help support further international engagement by VET stakeholders.
“As Australia and China become even closer in trade, and labour becomes more globally mobile, it is important to have a mutual understanding of each nation’s future skills needs, and discuss opportunities to genuinely collaborate on global skills initiatives.”
AMMA Executive Director
AMMA Training and Development is the resource industry’s own Registered Training Organisation, offering a selection of courses to help the mining, oil and gas sector overcome the challenges of bullying behaviours and become a positive place for employees to work.
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