Workforce report calls for more than a billion in spending

MORE than $1 billion will need to be spent on tertiary education in the next 12 years to address demand for an extra 2.8 million tertiary qualified workers by 2050, a major workforce report has revealed.

Tertiary Education Minister Chris Bowen released the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency's 2013 National Workforce Development Strategy on Friday.

The 212-page report analysed four different future scenarios to find out what the demand for skills would be nation-wide by 2050.

Just 54% of Australians aged 15 to 74 years old had the literacy skills needed to meet the complex demands of everyday life and work, the AWPA found.

The report also found similar results were similar for document literacy, at 53% and 47% of Australian reaching the same level for numeracy.

Modelling for the report revealed demand for skills was expected to rise by between 3% and 3.9% each year up to 2050.

On this basis, Australian governments will need to support the achievement of a minimum annual growth of 3% in tertiary enrolments.

This demand for qualifications is driven by the increasing size of the labour market, changing employment composition, retirements, skills depending and skill broadening.

By 2025, more than 70% of Australia's workforce will have post-school qualifications, compared to the current 60% figure, while three of five new jobs will be technical, professional or managerial.

Minister Bowen said highly qualified and skilled workers not only had better career prospects, but were also more productive.

"That's why we are committed to building skills and we are investing more than $15 billion in skills and training over the next four years," he said.

"This report will help to inform future policy and ensure our record investment in skills and training is well directed.

"I'm not today announcing in principle support or a Government detailed response; what I'm doing is welcoming this report as a very important contribution."

While the report recommends the allocation of $1,190 million in tertiary education by public and private groups by 2025, the government has not yet officially responded to the report.

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