Jobs, skills, migration among ‘big challenges’ for Govt summit

Maintaining full employment, lifting workforce participation and addressing skills, training and migration are among the “big economic challenges” outlined in an issues paper released ahead of the Federal Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit next month. 

The Summit, held at Parliament House in Canberra on September 1-2, will bring together various groups including unions, employers, civil society and governments “to address our shared economic challenges”. 

READ: JOBS AND SKILLS SUMMIT ISSUES PAPER

The Summit will cover five broad themes:

1. Maintaining full employment and growing productivity

Maintaining full employment is a central objective of government, the paper said. “But it is not sufficient in and of itself to support sustainable growth in real wages and higher living standards: this relies on solid, sustainable improvements in productivity.”

Issues for discussion:

  • A shared vision and coordinated actions to increase productivity growth are key to increasing
    real wages. What actions can be taken to boost productivity growth across the economy?
  • What can be done to ensure the benefits of productivity improvements are harnessed to lift
    the living standards of all Australians?
  • What policies would be most effective to sustaining full employment into the future and what
    are the biggest challenges and risks to achieving this?
  • How can we best take advantage of structural changes like digitalisation, climate change, the
    shift to renewable energy, the ageing population, and growth in the services sector and care
    economy to boost productivity and sustain full employment?

2. Boosting job security and wages

“Secure, well-paid jobs are a fundamental part of Australia’s social and economic fabric,” the paper said. “While productivity growth is a key driver of real wage growth over the medium term, there are other
factors that have been holding back Australia’s wage growth over the past decade.”

Issues for discussion:

  • How can bargaining be revitalised to help boost productivity and sustainable wage growth?
  • How do we ensure emerging employment practices benefit workers’ economic security?
  • How can we achieve equal opportunities for women and close the gender pay gap?
  • How can we ensure workplaces are safe and fair, particularly for those people at higher risk of
    harassment, discrimination and other breaches of workplace minimum standards?

3. Lifting participation and reducing barriers to employment

The paper said: “Despite unemployment being historically low, barriers to employment remain for many Australians, including younger and older people, First Nations people, women, people with disability, unpaid
carers, culturally and linguistically diverse people, and those living in certain regional and remote areas.”

Issues for discussion:

  • How can we reduce the barriers to employment for some Australians? How should
    governments, unions, business and the broader community best coordinate efforts to achieve
    this?
  • How can government and industry expand the representation of women and other
    underrepresented Australians across the economy?
  • What strategies can be used to reduce discrimination and increase awareness of the value
    that diversity can bring to businesses and the broader economy?
  • Across the employment services framework, where should effort be targeted? How do we
    measure progress and get results?

4. Delivering a high-quality labour force through skills, training and migration

“In recent years, Australia’s skills and training system has not adapted to meet the economy’s needs,” the paper said. Meanwhile, “the current migration system has also become difficult to administer and difficult for potential migrants to navigate”.

Issues for discussion:

  • How can governments and businesses better integrate training with employment pathways?
  • Are the current systems for higher education and VET appropriately tailored to respond to
    Australia’s needs now and in the future?
  • How can Australia’s migration system complement Australia’s domestic workforce while also
    delivering enhanced economic and social outcomes over the long term?
  • What are the long-term opportunities and challenges for Australia’s migration system?
  • How can government, industry and unions support increasing women and men’s training,
    employment, and retention in sectors where they have been historically underrepresented?

5. Maximising opportunities in the industries of the future

Solar, wind and battery power

Maximising opportunities from new, growing and strategically important industries including renewable energy and the digital and care economies will be critical to boosting productivity, sustaining full employment and ensuring our cities and regions thrive, the paper said.

Issues for discussion:

  • How can government and businesses maximise the opportunities presented by the structural
    trends impacting the economy, including the climate and energy transition, while ensuring the
    benefits are shared fairly?
  • How do we navigate workforce shortages in the care economy while supporting our frontline
    workers?
  • How can government, business and unions ensure our regions benefit from these growing
    industries?
  • How can we ensure the labour force is more resilient and well-equipped to respond to future
    changes in the structure of economy?
  • How can we ensure economies of the future are inclusive, so that all Australians are able to
    access and benefit from these opportunities?
  • What investments in education and skills are needed now to take advantage of these
    opportunities?

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said “there is an overarching focus on women’s experiences of the labour market and the challenge of ensuring women have equal opportunities and equal pay”.

“The Summit is all about bringing people together to address the big economic challenges which have been neglected for too long,” he said.

CCIWA has provided recommendations to the Summit in the areas of employment and productivity; skills and training; migration; and boosting workforce participation.

The themes and outcomes of the Summit will inform the Employment White Paper, which will help to shape the future of Australia’s labour market. It will be led by Treasury, which will invite submissions and engage the wider community over the next 12 months.

For more information, visit Jobs and Skills Summit.

To be part of WA’s peak business organisation, get in touch via 1300 422 492 or membership@cciwa.com  

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