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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3592..

Leave granted.

MR STEFANIAK: Scrutiny report 59 contains the committee's comments on seven bills, 21 pieces of subordinate legislation and two government responses. The report was circulated to members when the Assembly was not sitting. I commend it to the Assembly.

Education, Training and Young People—Standing Committee

Report 8

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (12.09): I present the following report:

Education, Training and Young People—Standing Committee—Report 8—Vocational Education and Training to Address Skills Shortages, dated 19 August 2008, together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I move:

That the report be noted.

The shortage of skilled workers is one of the major challenges facing the ACT and, indeed, Australia as we look to our future as a society. It has been a concern for some time in the ACT. The ACT has the dual pressure of competition for skilled workers interstate and overseas and a record low unemployment rate. The rate of unemployment in the ACT has been steadily falling and stabilised at 2.7 per cent in the first half of this year.

The question of skills shortages is not as simple as not being able to recruit or retain staff. A skills shortage is defined by the Department of Education and Training as "a lack of people in the community with the desired skills". The commonwealth government has said:

Skills shortages exist when employers are unable to fill or have considerable difficulty in filling vacancies for an occupation or specialised skill needs within that occupation ...

The committee noted, for instance, that the ACT has experienced for a while—and we have just been talking about it—a shortage of general practitioners to meet the needs of our population. This is the experience of all jurisdictions. I repeat: this is the experience of all jurisdictions. We are experiencing a true skills shortage. However, the ACT has experienced a seven per cent drop, as was mentioned before, in the number of GPs between 1995-96 and 2006-07, with a determined effort by the medical profession and the ACT government to address this issue. Let me emphasise: this is with determined efforts by the medical profession and the ACT government to address this issue.

Mr Speaker, the standing committee had resolved to undertake this inquiry in April 2006 and, as you are aware, in 2006-07 the ACT government announced the establishment of a Skills Commission. Therefore, the committee sought advice from the commission to ensure that the inquiry's focus could be further refined.

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