A new industry and skills committee has been established to provide effective industry leadership to the vocational education and training (VET) sector in Australia. 

The announcement coincides with the COAG Industry and Skills Committee meeting being held in Melbourne today. Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, announced the composition of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee ahead of the meeting with state and territory Ministers.

“My state and territory Ministerial colleagues and I have committed to a VET reform agenda that improves the quality of vocational education, cuts red tape, makes training more relevant to employer needs, and encourages more people to undertake apprenticeships or training in areas of skills shortage,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Establishing the Australian Industry and Skills Committee will greatly assist the Government in delivering on these reforms.

“This Committee replaces a complex framework of 13 different committees and advisory bodies, simplifying governance of the vocational education sector and, importantly, putting industry at the centre of the system.

“This will ensure that employers are central to the advice provided to governments on strategies to lift the quality and relevance of training needed across the Australian economy.

“The industry-led body will also play the critical role of overseeing qualifications and training product development – ensuring the system is focused squarely on industry needs and that Australian workers are highly skilled and job-ready.

“To lead the Committee I have appointed John Pollaers as the Chair.

“As current Chair of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council and with extensive industry experience, including as previous Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Brands Limited and Foster’s Group Limited, John is well placed to lead this key part of the VET system and I very much welcome his involvement,” Senator Birmingham said.

In accepting the appointment, Mr Pollaers said, “As Chair of the Committee I look forward to working closely with government, education and industry leaders across all states and territories to ensure that Australian industry has access to a highly skilled and globally competitive workforce. Our economic future rests in their hands.” 

Senator Birmingham said that under John Pollaers’ guidance, the Committee will comprise twelve members from industry, including a member nominated by each state and territory.  

The Committee will also have one industry peak body representative rotating annually. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has nominated the first member while the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group will participate in future rotations. 

  • Members are as follows:
    • Mr John Pollaers (Chair)
    • Mr Mick McMahon (Commonwealth)
    • Ms Tara Diamond (Commonwealth VET Advisory Board member)
    • Ms Patricia Neden (VIC)
    • Mr Brett Schimming (QLD) 
    • Mr Adrian Smith (SA)
    • Mr Ian Hill (WA)
    • Mr Darren Mathewson (TAS)
    • Mr Andrew Bruyn AM (NT)
    • Ms Michelle Melbourne (ACT)
    • Ms Jenny Lambert (Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry).

In addition, New South Wales will nominate a member to join the Committee.

Brief biographies for members of the Committee can be viewed via –

Two ex-officio members, who are senior government officials, will support the Industry Committee members.