Australian Government’s Jobs and Skills summit takeaways 

a group of colleagues laughing
The Federal Government’s Jobs and Skills summit, held on 1-2 of September, was designed to bring together unions, employers, civil society and governments to address the shared economic challenges of near record unemployment and a shortage of skills in Australia’s current, and future, labour forces. While there are many challenges that need to be addressed, the summit sought to focus on:
  • Keeping unemployment low while boosting productivity and incomes.  
  • Delivering secure, well-paid jobs and strong, sustainable wages growth 
  • Expanding employment opportunities for all Australians, including the disadvantaged 
  • Addressing skills shortages and getting the skills mix right over the long term.  
  • Improving migration settings to support higher productivity and wages  
  • Maximising jobs and opportunities from the renewable energy sector, tackling climate change, the digital economy, the care economy and a Future Made in Australia.  
  • Ensuring women have equal opportunities and equal pay.  
The agenda was a big one, and no single right answer to be found, but the ability to move forward with general consensus from major players will help plot the path towards future solutions.  
We here at Hays were especially happy to see such a focus on women’s participation in the workforce. Never before has a forum such as this had such a strong share of voice from women. The more diverse thinking in the room bought by inclusion of all genders will help find solutions that work for everyone in the community.  
We were also happy to see the permanent migration cap increase from 160,000 to 195,000. This will go some way in easing the staffing pressures, but more needs to be done in streamlining the visa processing systems to bring skilled workers into the country quicker.  
The government and states and territories have committed to a number of immediate actions off the back of the summit, including:
  • A $1 billion fund toward fee-free TAFE in 2023  
  • The accelerated delivery of 465,000 additional fee-free TAFE places 
While these short-term initiatives are quick wins that will go some way to help ease the pressure on the labour market, further plans are being laid to develop a blueprint to grow and support the vocational, education and training workforce; restart discussions for a five-year National Skills Agreement and other initiatives to continue building skills in all areas of the workforce including women, minorities, Indigenous Australians, and under-privileged cohorts.   
Many other measures were discussed and implemented and you can read them in the Treasury’s Outcome Paper here.  
These measures are all further supported by a number of complementary existing commitments from the state and territories and federal government. If you’re looking to boost your existing workforce or upskill the teams that you currently have here are a number of grants and incentives that already exist to help. Try contacting your local government representative to understand what grants might be suitable for your business.  
The other big agenda item to come out of the summit was in response to the complexities of Australia’s current IR laws, broadly considered to be some of the most complex in the world.  
A review of the 2009 Fair Work Act is on the cards, and many are predicting the introduction of multi-employer bargaining, a modification of the Better off Overall Test, and better access to flexible work arrangements. While nothing is yet finalised, changes will happen, and businesses should be prepared to negotiate in a different environment if they have any enterprise agreements that are coming up for consideration in the year ahead. This might include a review of your current industrial instruments and policies; removing any unnecessary limitations on access to single and multi-employer agreements; foster enterprise bargaining at the enterprise level; improve the bargaining process; improve access to flexible working arrangements and unpaid parental leave and provide strong protections for works against adverse action, discrimination and harassment.  
A strong economy is fuelled by a strong workforce, so we welcome this focus on building Australia’s jobs and skills to work towards a better tomorrow for us all.

About this author

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Follow Nick on LinkedIn

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