ARA to establish Jobs and Skills Council to respond to current and emerging skills needs in the services sector

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomes the announcement today that its Stage 1 grant application ‘Industry Clusters – Strengthening Australia’s National Vocational Education and Training System Program’ has been successful. 

Led by the ARA, the new Jobs and Skills Council will focus on responding to the current and emerging skills needs and workforce challenges of related industries – Retail and Wholesale, Online Sales and Fulfilment, Personal Services, Arts, Tourism, Travel and Hospitality. 

The program is being administered by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations with the funding intended to provide the new Jobs and Skills Council with a stronger, more strategic voice and broader role in ensuring Australia’s VET system continues to deliver on employer and learner needs.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra, who led the grant submission, said collaborative work across industry, unions and government is critical to the success of any skills and training programs

“With acute labour and skills shortages across the arts, personal services, retail, tourism and hospitality sectors, there’s never been a more critical time to enhance our current approach to vocational training,” he said. “We know from past experience that this work will only be successful when industry, governments and unions work together and are aligned on outcomes. We are very encouraged by the awarding of this grant, which will be used for establishment activities for our Jobs and Skills Council.

Mr Zahra said as the lead applicant the ARA will be involved in overseeing the setup of a separate entity known as ‘Workforce Equipped’ and establishing the Board, Management and supporting organisation structure to operate the entity ongoing.  The new entity will be tri-partite, not-for-profit, with a number of Employee and Employer organisations and ARA members as foundation voting members.  

“We have already been able to demonstrate a high level of cooperation and alignment across the key sectors in getting to this stage of this new organisation. The grant process was a significant and lengthy piece of work with many cross functional external stakeholders and was underpinned by the commitment received from our ARA members and key employee and industry stakeholders demonstrating their support of the submission,” he said.

About Industry Clusters:

  • The Australian Government has committed to delivering a collaborative, tripartite VET sector that brings employers, unions and governments together to find solutions to skills and workforce challenges. 
  • Jobs and Skills Councils are being established to provide industry with a stronger, more strategic voice in ensuring Australia’s VET sector delivers stronger outcomes for learners and employers. 
  • As a national network of industry-owned and industry-led organisations, Jobs and Skills Councils will provide strategic leadership in addressing skills and workforce challenges, aligning effort across industries to improve system responsiveness, build stakeholder confidence and drive high-quality outcomes for the VET sector, learners and business. 
  • Jobs and Skills Councils will identify skills and workforce needs for their sectors, map career pathways across education sectors, develop contemporary VET training products, support collaboration between industry and training providers to improve training and assessment practice and act as a source of intelligence on issues affecting their industries. 
  • Jobs and Skills Councils will work closely with Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA), drawing on JSA’s workforce analysis and projections to undertake planning for their industry sectors, creating a uniform understanding of the skills landscape and how skill gaps can be addressed. 
  • If you are interested in engaging with the Jobs and Skills Councils once they have established, you can register your details on the DEWR Industry Engagement Reforms Homepage. You will also find a more detailed factsheet on each of the Jobs and Skills Councils, including their sector coverage and training package on this site. 


Media Enquiries:

M 0434 381 670


About us: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the oldest, largest and most diverse national retail body, representing a $400 billion sector that employs 1.3 million Australians and is the largest private sector employer in the country. As Australia’s peak retail body, representing more than 120,000 retail shop fronts and online stores, the ARA informs, advocates, educates, protects and unifies our independent, national and international retail community. To learn more about ARA’s exclusive member benefits and more, visit




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