"The Federal Government's Employment White Paper released today is an important blueprint designed to equip ourselves for the future and to gear up for the technology and decarbonisation challenges already impacting our economy and society," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.
"The White Paper shifts the focus on dealing with our ailing productivity performance up a gear by treating the issue as a national challenge.
"However, the overall ambition of making it easier for people to enter the workforce does not sit well with the Government's deeply problematic workplace relations agenda which adds enormously to the complexity of employment for employers and creates new barriers to employment across the economy, forcing thousands into insecure work.
"The directions set out in the Employment White paper sit at the intersection of our social and economic ambitions. They are about labour supply and the availability of suitable skills as much as they are about improving opportunity and social inclusion.
"Underpinning the White Paper's narrative and ambition is the shared responsibility across government, business and community to be better prepared to grasp opportunities and address challenges associated with the energy transition, adapting to climate change and the transformational impacts of decarbonisation, digitalisation and emerging technologies.
"The education and training agenda throughout the White Paper mirrors a range of initiatives promoted by Ai Group for at least two decades.
"The broad suite of reforms help to further build the education and training system needed to develop the required skills for now and the future. Full support of Higher Apprenticeships, an idea pioneered by Ai Group, is timely. It is a world-leading approach to developing a broad range of in-demand skills in the context of work. 'Learning while earning' models develop relevant skills in real time. Furthermore, they expand access to individuals otherwise locked out of obtaining formal qualifications due to financial barriers.
"Accelerating the establishment of Centres of Excellence is further good news. There is little time to waste in getting on with high quality, relevant and industry led skill development.
"The exploration of a National Skills Passport is also a sensible initiative. Individuals will be able to track their skills and qualifications and employers will have increased confidence and transparency in making employment decisions. It is an important step towards developing a National Lifelong Learning framework.
"Higher sustainable wages growth is an important part of the ambition; as the White Paper acknowledges, this will require a lift in productivity across both the private and public sectors of the Australian economy.
"There is an important focus in the White Paper on managing our immigration program to achieve training outcomes more relevant to the skills our economy needs and we look forward to seeing more detail in the soon to be released Migration Strategy.
"Making inroads into Australia's structural unemployment is most welcome including in areas of entrenched disadvantage. Broadening access to opportunities and reducing disincentives to work by allowing people to keep more of their income support payments when they earn income from wages will deliver positive social and economic outcomes.
"The next stage of the White Paper process will be the long and demanding implementation task and we will work closely with all levels of government in Australia to ensure the best outcomes for the community and the economy," Mr Willox said.
Tony Melville – 0419 190 347