The Federal Government should look to build on its successful Kickstart program for apprentices, said Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) chief executive Heather Ridout.
Achieving the 21,000 target for new apprentices under the program is a “great result,” she said.
The Kickstart outcome was announced recently at the launch of the strategy, Australian Workforce Futures - A National Workforce Development Strategy.
“We endorse the strategy and call for its adoption by government and its implementation as a matter of priority, Mrs Ridout said.
"The strategy focuses on the need to lift our skills levels in the context of a broader approach to workforce development,” she said.
Ms Ridout said the Government should adopt an “ambitious but achievable target” on workforce participation and focus on lifting literacy levels.
“If this is achieved, it will lift our economic and business performance and very importantly, improve the well-being of countless Australians.
“Skills development has to be given priority because of our comparatively low unemployment levels and the prospect of big skill shortages re-emerging in the near term.
"There is no more important agenda than this in Australia and we urge governments at all levels to give it their closest consideration. This is essential if we are to take advantage of the huge opportunities that will present themselves in the years ahead," Mrs Ridout said.
“The improvement in apprenticeship numbers needs be sustained to ensure a continuing supply of skilled tradespeople.
“Our own research has forecast skill shortages in the coming year across manufacturing, construction, engineering and services.
“Construction companies in particular are concerned with growing skills shortages as they embark on major infrastructure and resource investments.
“It was good to see that the construction industry was one of the most active sectors in taking up the opportunity presented under Kickstart."