New skills commissioner to analyse impact of COVID-19 on labour market

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday September 28, 2020

Adam Boyton

Adam Boyton has officially been appointed as the inaugural national skills commissioner, for a five-year term.

Formerly a chief of staff to ex New South Wales Liberal leader John Brogden, Boyton was appointed interim commissioner in October 2019.

He also previously held the role of chief economist at the Business Council of Australia and Deutsche Bank, and was a member of the NSW Skills Board.

Skills minister Michaelia Cash said Boyton would provide expert advice and national leadership on the labour market to inform current and future skills needs.

“The importance of good data and information to forecast future employment trends and labour market needs is integral to this,” she said.

“The [National Skills Commission] forms a critical part Australian’s economic infrastructure as we recover from the effects of COVID-19. It will be vital in providing a trusted source of information for job seekers and employers.

“Mr Boyton will lead the NSC to project future employment by industry, occupation, region and skill level; provide improved data and advice on VET pricing; and importantly, analyse the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market.”

Boyton will officially commence in the role on October 13. By then, he will have earned $550,500 for his role as interim skills commissioner.

Read more: PM flags skills and industrial relations reform to rebuild post-pandemic economy

TAFE Directors Australia and the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia have both welcomed the appointment. Meanwhile, the ACTU has called on the commission to “clear the low bar set by recent efforts at federally coordinated skills training” and deliver strong federal funding to provide training to workers who have lost work during the pandemic.

“This government has done considerable damage to the skills training sector through cuts and exclusion of the workers the system is supposed to serve. We hope that Mr. Boyton can find a way to start reversing this damage,” ACTU assistant secretary Scott Connolly said.

“To lift the country out of recession we need to create secure jobs and make sure there are pathways for local workers into those jobs.

“Mr. Boyton needs to demonstrate he is serious about addressing the systemic issues in skills training by bringing all the parties to the table, not just doing what is best for profit-driven providers and employers.”

Cash noted the National Skills Commission would also support the government’s JobMaker plan and the $1 billion JobTrainer fund, which was unveiled back in July. South Australia, New South Wales, the ACT, Queensland, and Tasmania have signed up to the scheme so far, she noted, with the Northern Territory government to ink an agreement soon.

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia chief executive Troy Williams said that over the past two months, his organisation and Boyton have been working to ensure the quick and successful roll-out of JobTrainer.

“The JobTrainer program will support more than 300,000 school leavers and job seekers access a range of vocational education and training courses that will equip them for work and further study,” he said.

“ITECA’s discussions with the national skills commissioner on the JobTrainer program have been constructive.”

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