"The NSW Budget balances far-sighted measures to lift opportunity, workforce participation, productivity and sustainability with the immediate need for additional health funding in the wake of ongoing strains and cost of living support for households," Helen Waldron, NSW Head of the peak employer association Ai Group said today.

"The emphasis the Government is giving to raising workforce opportunities for women is particularly welcome given widespread labour and skills shortages. The Government's childcare, pre-schooling and parental leave initiatives will help build on the very strong gains in female workforce participation over the past decade. The initiatives to support women in small business and to attract women into the construction industry reflect identified areas of need and opportunity.

"Ai Group recognises the importance of the investment the Government is making in introducing universal pre-kindergarten for NSW children by 2030. Pre-school provides all children with the opportunity to engage in high quality early learning prior to entering school. This is a critical step in lifting education levels and is also a key equity measure, ensuring all children are given the best chance to make a strong start.

"The further investments in Institutes of Applied Technology, the University of Newcastle's Gosford campus and the upgrading of schools are also welcome as is the emphasis given to digital upgrades and lifting digital skills. With skills shortages such a pressing area, Ai Group's members were hoping for a greater emphasis on skilling particularly through apprenticeships, traineeships, and cadetships and for a focus on raising the digital capabilities of the existing workforce.

"Ai Group also supports the range of measures the Government is taking to stimulate the development of future industries across the State. These include advanced manufacturing, renewable energy and its supply chains, critical minerals and medical technology. We recognise the high-risk nature and longer-term nature of these investments and applaud the Government for its initiatives.

"The additional investments in the State's infrastructure pipeline are complemented by a particular focus on boosting the supply and affordability of housing. The targeted shared equity scheme, the stamp duty /land tax measure combined with the social housing and housing supply measures will make headway into the substantial housing challenges.

"The Government anticipates sharp improvements in the Budget bottom line in 2022-23 and 2023-24 with a return to surplus in the following year. The path to surplus will depend on continued economic strength in the face of considerable uncertainties facing the global and domestic economy," Ms Waldron said.

Further comment

Helen Waldron – 0419 346 714