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  • Writer's picture2022 Global Voices Fellow

Global Approaches to Domestic Problems: Addressing the Australian Skills Shortage through the Education Pipeline

By Mariam Abouelnasr, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, IMF, 2022


Mariam was supported by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Scholar. Her policy paper focuses on Global Approaches to Domestic Problems: Addressing the Australian Skills Shortage through the Education Pipeline


Executive Summary


Australia is facing an enduring skills shortage. While some industries are particularly hard-hit, and struggling to fill job vacancies, this is an economy-wide problem exacerbated by the pandemic’s halt to skilled migration, declining numbers of Vocational and Educational Training (VET) completions and low tech capability in Australian graduates. On a company level, job vacancies can be expensive to fill, as higher salaries and sign-on bonuses are being offered to incentivise new talent to sign contracts. On an economy-wide level, unfilled vacancies stagnate productivity and economic growth. They also exacerbate supply chain issues, where a lack of workers reduces the volume of product movement, increasing supply shortages and putting upwards pressure on inflation.1


This paper recommends that the skills shortage is addressed through the education pipeline, by repurposing the existing Government program, the New Colombo Plan (NCP). The NCP is run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and facilitates study abroad opportunities in the Indo-Pacific region for Australian university students. This paper identifies this program as a pathway to increasing the skills the Australian economy is currently lacking. The paper makes three recommendations:


  1. Expand the NCP to support VET students to study abroad

  2. Connect VET and Higher Education NCP scholars with internship opportunities at home

  3. Increase the number of women in STEM-related NCP programs


Education is at the core of Australian skills development, and study abroad can be better leveraged to address gaps in the labour market.




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