Joint Statement – CCIWA & CME – Skills Summit

Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA
CEO Chris Rodwell
Chamber of Minerals and Energy
CEO Paul Everingham

 

Peak organisations and industry groups representing key sectors of the WA economy welcome the focus the McGowan Government has brought to the issue of skills and labour shortages today. Skills shortages are the biggest barrier to growth to our members, and the State economy. The WA business community is committed to working with both levels of Government to address these shortages.

Ultimately, we need to recognise that we won’t adequately resolve critical workforce gaps by simply tapping into our local and interstate population.

The business community continues to make very considerable investments in training people in this State. Even with these investments and important training reforms, there remains a considerable shortfall in skilled people to help build our economy.

Employers continue to promote relocation incentives, and CME estimates throughout COVID roughly 3000 fly-in fly-out workers either temporarily or permanently relocated to WA. However, many workers continue to choose not to relocate for a range of reasons.  CCIWA’s recent national survey clearly showed that it will be difficult to attract workers from other states, and that WA relies to a greater extent on overseas workers.

It is critical that the outcomes from the Skills Summit include real and tangible options to help remedy the problem, realising there is no easy solution.

Most importantly, the State Government must, when announced, commit to national reopening thresholds that effectively balances health social and economic considerations. Committing to such thresholds will provide a level of certainty to WA businesses over when they will be able to access overseas workers at scale.

Further specific options to enable businesses to access the workers they need include:

  1. Creating more capacity within the quarantine system, including:
    • More options for international arrivals based on the risk they pose, such as home quarantine for low-risk overseas arrivals.
    • Working with the Federal Government to rapidly develop dedicated quarantine facilities.
  1. Facilitating a clear and simple process to enable businesses to fill critical workforce gaps across all skill levels, which cannot be met locally, from overseas. The process should enable businesses or groups of businesses to propose programs like the Pacific Labour Scheme whereby they are responsible for the recruitment, movement and quarantine of workers.
  1. A commitment to continue shifting toward more risk-based responses to COVID outbreaks as the majority of vulnerable people have had a chance to be vaccinated. Practically this means a commitment that the following measures will only be applied as a last resort (i.e. for outbreaks involving variants our vaccines aren’t effective against):
    • Interstate border closures
    • Requiring 14 days quarantine for interstate arrivals
    • WA regional or state-wide lockdowns.
  1. Making and advocating for policy changes that increase WA women’s workforce participation. This includes by letting universal access funding for kindy follow the child, and advocating for the Commonwealth to remove Fringe Benefits Tax on childcare so that more businesses can provide childcare places for their employees.
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