After continuous and persistent advocacy on behalf of our industry, the Australian Fashion Council is excited to share that the newly released National Skills Priority List (SPL) for 2022, now includes eight key fashion and textile skills in the manufacturing space that have escalated to the 'strong demand' category.
This is a momentous occasion for the fashion & textile industry resulting from the efforts of many within our sector.
WHAT IS THE NATIONAL SKILLS PRIORITY LIST (SPL)?
The SPL provides a detailed view of occupations in shortage, nationally, and by state and territory, as well as the future demand for occupations in Australia, which informs the targeting of policy initiatives.
This sends a strong signal to the fashion industry on the importance of our industry going forward, and the resurgence of manufacturing in Australia. Strong industries are built on qualified skills and this is a step towards rebuilding the systems and infrastructure needed for the Australian fashion and textile industry.
WHAT SKILLS HAVE BEEN ESCALATED?
The 2022 List has identified key fashion and textile skills as an area of strong future demand. These skill sets include:
- Footwear Production Machine Operator
- Hide and Skin Processing Machine Operator
- Knitting Machine Operator
- Textile Dyeing and Finishing Machine Operator
- Weaving Machine Operator
- Yarn Carding and Spinning Machine Operator
- Textile And Footwear Production Machine Operators
In addition, demand for sewing machinists has risen from ‘moderate’ to ‘strong’ and an emerging demand (moderate) was identified for 'Clothing trades workers', which includes Apparel Cutters, Clothing Patternmakers, Dressmakers and Tailors.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR INDUSTRY?
Identifying these high demand skill sets is the first step to increasing the accessibility and quality of vocational and educational training (VET) programs to support new career pathways and government funded apprenticeships for the fashion and textile industry.
Government funded apprenticeships will ease the financial burden of manufacturers who are already under pressure to find and train new workers to meet the increased production demand. With this list of high demand occupations, the government can also activate a range of additional policy levers, including visas to increase skilled migration to fulfil these in demand jobs.
ADVOCATING FOR THE AFC’S POLICY PILLAR #3:
MAP AND DEVELOP FUTURE SKILLS AND CAREER PATHWAYS THAT WILL BOOST ECONOMIC SECURITY, PARTICULARLY FOR WOMEN.
In May this year, the AFC released its industry modelling report, Fashion Evolution: From Farm to Industry - Accelerating the economic impact of a sector powered by women. This report solidified the AFC’s four foundational policy pillars that, with industry and government working together, have the potential to place our sector on an accelerated growth trajectory whilst at the same time, accelerating economic opportunities for the women powering this industry.
Earlier this year, our CEO Leila Naja Hibri met with Zali Steggall MP. The fashion and textile industry, like most others across Australia, is struggling with an acute skilled workforce shortage. This policy pillar aims to upskill and train the majority female workforce in the fashion and textile industry to increase the economic security for women beginning their career as well as women re-entering the workforce. The approach would be two-fold, upskill the current workforce as well as engage the next generation of students to find jobs of the future.
This strategic policy pillar aims to fill current and future skills gaps with a focus on STEM roles as the industry moves to adopt technologies and advanced manufacturing initiatives, boosting the economy and closing the gender gap. The discussion left an impression upon Zali Steggal MP, and was highlighted by the Independents through Zoe Daniel MP during her speech at the National Jobs and Skills Summit.
“Apprenticeship programs are mostly dominated by male trades, but ... an industry like fashion, for example, brings a huge amount of economic benefit to the country, and cutters, machinists, pattern makers could all be trained in apprenticeships.” - Zoe Daniel MP
The AFC will continue to advocate to the government to develop future skills and career pathways that will support existing and new sectors of the industry including fashion technology and the circular economy.