Jobs and Skills Summit
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 127 No 7, 30 September 2022, page no. 16
The Albanese Labor government convened its promised Jobs and Skills Summit between 1 and 2 September.
Held in Parliament House, Canberra, the event provided an opportunity for diverse representatives of working Australia to come together to develop solutions to Australia’s economic and industrial issues.
While there were some disagreements between the representatives of the federal government, employers, unions and the broader community, the parties agreed to work toward a bigger and better trained, more productive workforce, a boost in real wages and living standards, and the creation of greater opportunity for Australians.
The federal government agreed to 36 immediate initiatives, including:
- an additional $1 billion in joint federal-state funding for fee-free TAFE in 2023, and accelerated delivery of 465,000 fee-free TAFE places
- a one-off income credit so that age pensioners who want to work can earn an additional $4,000 over this financial year without losing any of their pension
- modernisation of Australia’s workplace relations laws, including making bargaining accessible for all workers and businesses
- amending the Fair Work Act to strengthen access to flexible working arrangements, make unpaid parental leave more flexible, and strengthen protection for workers against discrimination and harassment
- improving access to jobs and training pathways for women, First Nations people, regional Australians and culturally and linguistically diverse people, including equity targets for training places, 1,000 digital apprenticeships in the Australian Public Service, and other measures to reduce barriers to employment
- increasing the permanent migration program ceiling to 195,000 in 2022-23 to help ease widespread, critical workforce shortages
- extending visas and relaxing work restrictions on international students to strengthen the pipeline of skilled labour and providing additional funding to resolve the visa backlog.
The process will continue, with many additional ideas and suggestions being explored over the next 12 months, leading to the development of an Employment White Paper to shape the future of the Australian labour market. A terms of reference document was due to be released and submissions called for in late September.
The Australian Education Union participated in the summit and welcomed the additional commitment to TAFE funding reform.
AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said: “We look forward to working collaboratively with the federal government to deliver the boost TAFE needs to continue providing quality skills education to all Australians.”