What are the goals of the Jobs and Skills Summit?
It’s in the news, at the forefront of our minds and supported by data - Australia is suffering from a significant labour shortage. Almost 80% of Queensland businesses have cited the lack of job applicants as an issue in CCIQ’s latest Pulse Survey of Business Conditions.
The Australian Government has called a Job and Skills Summit this September, to provide answers to these issues. This is an important step, hoping to emulate the 1983 Economic Summit. and will give a roadmap for solving the employment shortage for all Australian businesses going forward.
If history repeats, it could lead to an economic and productivity plan that will affect Queenslanders for many years to come. But how exactly do they propose tackling the issue?
Who will attend and what will be addressed?
The discussions and debate on the future of Australian jobs and skills to be held at the Summit will have far-reaching impacts. To make sure all Australians are represented, the Summit will bring together a variety of bodies ranging from government, union, civil society and employers.
CCIQ will be involved through the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), working closely with the national body to ensure the voice of Queensland business and industry is heard loud and clear.
The summit issue paper, released by federal treasury, highlights two major problems to be addressed. The first one is the drop in productivity growth in Australia. While it averaged 2.1% from 1989 to 2004, it plunged to 1 per cent thereafter and is now at its lowest rate in half a century.
The other problem is perfectly illustrated by the current ratio in Australia of one unemployed person per job vacancy, compared to three unemployed people per vacancy ratiopre-COVID-19. Yet, despite this employee-favouring environment, many Australians are having difficulties obtaining safe, well-paid employment. Those still facing barriers to entering the workforce on equal grounds are women, First Nations people, older Australians, migrants, people with disability, refugees, and people living in regional and remote areas.
To address all those issues, the summit has been divided into 5general themes of debate.
Breaking down the five pillars of the Jobs and Skills Summit
1. Maintaining full employment and growing productivity.
The Summit will encourage discussion on what actions and policies can be taken to boost productivity growth across the economy. It will look at solutions to lift the standards of living of all Australians and try to harness coming changes like digitalisation, the shift to renewable energy, the ageing population, and growth in the services sector.
2. Boosting job security and wages.
The key topic of this debate will be achieving equal opportunities for women and people at higher risk of discrimination to ensure a fair and safe workplace. The government will be looking at revitalising bargaining for sustainable wage growth and emerging employment practices.
3. Lifting participation and reducing barriers to employment.
The summit will call for common ground strategies uniting the government, unions and businesses to reduce discrimination and raise awareness of the value of diversity. The focus is on where efforts should be targeted and how the progress can be measured.
4. Delivering a high-quality labour force through skills, training and migration.
Issues for discussion will include how governments and businesses can better integrate training with employment pathways, looking at both higher education and Vocational Education and Training (VET). The next step is looking at long-term opportunities for the migration system to enhance the economy while complementing the national skilling strategy.
5. Maximising opportunities in the industries of the future.
This last theme is the most oriented towards the growing industries of the future and making sure Australia is equipped to benefit from the opportunities of the changing world. The discussion will aim to ensure the workforce is resilient and well-equipped to respond to future changes.
How will the Jobs and Skills summit impact Queensland?
CCIQ has found in Pulse reports that small to medium enterprises are disproportionately impactedby labour costs and shortages and will need greater support for a viable future.
Aligned with ACCI, we aim to represent Australian enterprises struggling to attract and retain talent. We will be advocating for sole traders, microbusinesses and SMEs, making sure they are represented alongside big corporate and employee groups.
CCIQ is acutely aware that Queensland is at a turning point, with an exciting future ahead in the shape of changing workplaces andwork-life, but especially once-in-a-generation opportunities like the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the state’s move to a renewable energy future. We want to ensure that Queensland businesses are well placed to stay ahead of the game and benefit from the opportunities. The worker shortage is holding businesses back and providing another layer of strain on already stretched thin resources. The Summit should provide solutions aimed at benefiting us all.