The Australian Government has released its employment white paper on jobs and opportunities, ‘Working Future’, outlining the government’s vision for a “dynamic and inclusive labour market”.
“This white paper provides a roadmap to position the Australian labour market for the future. It outlines the practical actions being taken and the further reform directions required to achieve this potential,” said the government.
Five objectives contribute to achieving the government’s vision:
- Delivering sustained and inclusive full employment
- Promoting job security and strong, sustainable wage growth
- Reigniting productivity growth
- Filling skills needs and building the future workforce
- Overcoming barriers to employment and broadening opportunity
As part of the white paper, the government says it will take nine immediate steps, including progressing scoping work on a ‘National Skills Passport’ in consultation with employers, unions, the tertiary education sector, and governments. According to the government, this will help workers demonstrate and promote their qualifications and businesses find more skilled workers and “turbocharge” TAFE Centres of Excellence. Up to six of these centres will begin developing courses in 2024, working with states, territories, and education providers to design world-leading skills and curriculum.
The Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA) said the government’s goal of full employment is admirable, but meeting this target means employers and employees need to exercise all available workplace flexibilities.
According to the MTAA, a greater focus on foundational skills in schools and training programmes will add to Australia’s skills capability and improve workplace productivity, enabling greater participation by people who struggle to access the form of employment that suits their individual needs.
“The MTAA supports the need to raise resources and funding for training providers and urges government to ensure the private training providers, along with TAFE institutes, can access the same funding to deliver the same training, and can access resource funding equitably, either in or outside of the TAFE institute,” said the association.
“Industry registered training organisations, who form a key conduit between industry, training, and employment, also need particular focus. The provision of quality training will be critical to a number of industries, including those like automotive, who face critical skills shortages.
“MTAA and its state and territory members support linking VET qualifications with higher education pathways and encourage government to acknowledge many existing industries, like automotive, are in a steep transition curve, with whole sectors reskilling to meet the needs of the digital world, and to meet environmental targets.”
Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the MTAA, said working on new vehicles requires electronic diagnosis and computer analytics, the same as someone working on a wind turbine or a complex computerised system. “Care needs to be taken to ensure a scarce number of trade aspirants leaving school will not jump to higher-level apprenticeships at the expense of the traditional trades,” he added.
According to the MTAA, the automotive industry needs 15,000 new apprentices every year.
“MTAA supports a greater focus on matching incoming temporary and permanent migrants and, in particular, it has been identified as the sixth most in-demand occupation by Jobs and Skills Australia. In an industry with over 30,000 vacant jobs nationally, we need to ensure we tightly match migration with genuine jobs and employment in the economy,” said Gwilym.