As part of the Australian Government’s Skilling Australia for the Future policy, an independent statutory body, Skills Australia, was established to provide advice on current and future demand for skills and investment in training. In September 2008, Skills Australia joined with the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia to sponsor a half-day seminar with academics and others to discuss what current research findings (both in Australia and overseas) can tell policy makers and practitioners about the labour market, the formation and use of skills and future skills requirements. The seminar was intended to provide input into Skills Australia’s determination of its future research priorities, as well as inform its advice more generally. The dialogue between Skills Australia and the research community will also inform researchers about what policy advisers see as the key policy issues, and assist the research community in directing future research so that it is policy relevant.

This paper, which was commissioned by the Academy of the Social Sciences and Skills Australia, sets out to:

  • contextualise the proceedings of the seminar within a broader public policy framework
  • record the outcomes of the event and the significance for policy
  • offer commentary where necessary.

About the author

Phil Lewis is the Canberra Director of the Centre for Labour Market Research (CLMR) and Professor of Economics at the University of Canberra. He is among the best-known economists in the area of the economics of employment, education and training in Australia and is the author of over 100 journal articles, books and book chapters. Apart from a distinguished academic career he has worked in government and produced a number of major reports for the private and public sectors. Phil is a member of the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Labour Economics. He is Past National President of the Economic Society of Australia and Past President of the Western Australian and Canberra branches of the Society. In 2008 he was awarded the Honorary Fellow Award by the Economic Society for his outstanding contribution to the economics profession.