Workforce futures: a unique initiative to help your business – for free

By Judith O’Neill*

IF you have not already seen the AFTA media releases about the Workforce Futures initiative in partnership with Service Skills Australia you need to quickly access and find out more. Plus get your Expression of Interest application in.

AFTA and the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) are collaborating on a new government funded initiative to help businesses improve and grow through their people.

Through the Workforce Futures Skills Advisor Network, skilled and qualified advisors will work with your business to identify and respond to specific workforce needs whilst offering support and mentoring.

Any AFTA or ATEC member business can apply to participate in the Workforce Futures program with access to the Workforce Futures Skills Advisor Network service fully funded and free of charge to businesses.

The Workforce Futures program is open to travel, tourism and hospitality business operators of all sizes (subject to completing the Expression of Interest process) providing workforce development solutions specific to the business requirements and appropriate to individual needs.

AFTA chief executive Jay Westbury has described the program as “a unique collaboration between the travel, tourism and hospitality industry and the Federal Government that will deliver real outcomes for our businesses by providing tailored business advice and strategy”.

And ATEC managing director Felicia Mariani also used the “U word”, saying: “Workforce Futures will be unique in its capacity to offer industry knowledge and practical experience with a thorough understanding of workforce related issues.”

The three interconnected projects are:
1. Regional Workforce Development – Building on Tourism’s Employment Plans (hot spots).
2. Skills Advisor Network.
3. Targeted Skills Development.

Regional Workforce Development. Labour and skills “hot spots” have been identified to develop eight pilot regional tourism employment plans. These are planned for Broome, the Red Centre, Regional Victoria, Sydney, Tropical North Queensland, Kangaroo Island,The Australian Capital Territory and regional Tasmania.

Skills Advisor Network. The skills advisors will visit businesses, conduct face-to-face interviews and complete a business diagnostic assessment which assists with preparing a Workforce Development Plan. Businesses will then have follow up support from their skills advisor over the next six months.

Key aspects of the service include:

  • Skills advisor evaluation of the business’s workforce development and planning needs and offering support to respond to identified gaps.
  • Support and advice to improve productivity and performance – with specific focus on improving the business’s workforce capacity and capability by providing 7.5 hours of consultancy time to define and identify workforce planning and development issues and opportunities plus access to 10 hours one to one consultancy time (over a six month period) to implement outcomes of the evaluation.

The network of skills advisors will have:

  • Demonstrated, practical experience in the travel and tourism sectors;
  • Keen understanding of industry best practice. For example the advisor will have been an owner of a travel and or tourism business or had significant experience at senior levels in the business;
  • Demonstrated ability to impart business advice to other enterprises and facilitate change in the travel and tourism sectors; and
  • Suitable qualification and credentials in business and industry.

AFTA’s director of education and training Rick Myatt is impressed. “One of the key features of the skills advisory service is its ability to assist operators in identifying which government funded programs are best aligned to a business’ needs,” he said.

“This is supported through the knowledge of skills advisors and through a unique (that word again!) database of over 900 funded programs which has been integrated into the workforce diagnostic tool.”

I am proud to have been chosen as one of the skills advisors on this innovative free program. I and my fellow skills advisors are currently being “matched” with businesses that we will contact and set up appointments with to begin the exciting program process.

I am hoping to be “matched” with some travel agents in Western Australia, my home state!

To join the program go to


*Judith O’Neill is a management consultant, business and corporate coach. She is the principal of Aspirations Consulting and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Judith can be contacted on telephone (02) 9904 3730 or email: or visit