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The 2022 Job Summit and where to from here?

One of the election promises of the Federal Government was the establishment of a Job Summit to address the issue of employment in today’s society. In an attempt to harken back to the Hawke-Keating-Era, the purpose of the Job Summit involved an equal representation of business groups, unions, and community organisations to come up with strategies to address the themes in the issues paper. The 5 overarching themes that were discussed at the Job Summit were:

  • A better skilled, better-trained workforce

  • Addressing Skills Shortages and Strengthening the Migration System

  • Boosting Job Security and Wages, and Creating Safe, Fair, and Productive Workplaces

  • Promoting Equal Opportunities and Reducing Barriers to Employment

  • Maximising jobs and opportunities in our industries and communities

Below, we will highlight some of the key outcomes of the themes raised at the Job Summit. This will be broken up into immediate; future proposals, and; complimenting existing commitments (some of which are highlighted in our blog on where the ALP stood in relation to employment law reform).

Issue 1: A better skilled, better-trained workforce

Immediate actions include:

  • Legislating ‘Jobs and Skills Australia’ as an independent body to help with workforce planning. As part of this, consultation will be provided with relevant stakeholders.

  • Ensuring 180,000 additional fee-free TAFE places are provided within the next year.

Future proposals include:

  • Incorporating ‘micro-credentials’ in the TVET framework,

Complementing existing commitments include:

  • Establishing an ‘Accord’ to improve the University sector with all relevant stakeholders.

Issue 2: Addressing Skills Shortages and Strengthening the Migration System

Immediate actions include:

  • Allowing International students who study in Australia an extra 2 years of working rights once they graduate. This is limited to areas of skills shortages as would be identified by a working group.

Future proposals include:

  • Expanding pathways for temporary skilled sponsored workers to be permanent residents.

  • Legislative reforms in 2023 to help address the exploitation of migrant workers.

Complementing existing commitments include:

Issue 3: Boosting Job Security and Wages, and Creating Safe, Fair, and Productive Workplaces

Immediate actions include reforming the Fair Work Act to:

  • ensure all workers and businesses are able to negotiate in good faith for agreements that benefit them. This includes giving the Fair Work Commission the power to play a proactive role in assisting in the agreement process.

  • Ensure workers and businesses have flexible options for reaching Enterprise Agreements. This would be achieved by creating multi-employer agreements and removing unnecessary limitations on access to an EA.

  • Reforming the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT) to be less complex but be ‘simple, flexible and fair’.

  • Putting a time limit on ‘zombie’ Enterprise Agreements.

Future proposals include:

  • Amending legislation to allow workers the right to challenge unfair contractual terms.

  • Having a detailed consultation on a living wage to be reported in late 2023.

  • Ensuring workers have reasonable access to representation in addressing safety and compliance concerns.

Complementing existing commitments include:

  • Making gender pay equity and job security key objects in the Fair Work Act.

  • Giving employees a right to disclose their remuneration.

  • Establishing Fair Work Commission expert panels in relation to pay equity and the caring and community sector.

  • Implement recommendation 28 of the Respect@Work Report. This means explicitly prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace as well as enabling the Fair Work Commission to resolve disputes in relation to sexual harassment at work.

Issue 4: Promoting Equal Opportunities and Reducing Barriers to Employment

Immediate actions include:

  • Requiring employers with 500 or more employees to commit to targets that aim to improve gender equality in the workplace.

  • Requiring employers with 100 or more employees to report their gender pay gap to the Workforce Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

  • Establish online modules to ensure businesses become ‘carer friendly'.

  • Establishing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Business Council of Australia to develop a pilot scheme that aims to increase employment and career pathways for people with disabilities.

Future proposals include:

  • Exploring place-based approaches at the local level to help address barriers to employment for disadvantaged groups, including long-term unemployed.

  • Working with stakeholders to develop a new model for Disability Employment Services.

  • Examining a ‘Closing the Gap’ policy in relation to ATSI being involved in the workforce.

Complementing existing commitments include:

  • Introducing gender responsive budgeting, which includes having a gender impact analysis in relation to decision making and establishing an annual ‘Women’s Budget Statement.

  • Increasing Child Care Subsidy Rates (from July 2023) and increasing the maximum threshold for family income.

  • Working with the biggest 200 employers to establish public reporting and improve the employment rates for indigenous Australians.

Issue 5: Maximising jobs and opportunities in our industries and communities

Immediate actions include:

  • Implementing a Technology ‘Compact’ with businesses and unions to establish ‘Digital Apprenticeships’ that allow apprentices to earn while they are learning in entry job roles (with targets for cohorts that are under-represented in the tech industry).

Future proposals include:

  • Reviewing STEM programs to ensure they attract and retain more people from different cohorts, including women, indigenous Australians, people with disabilities, low-socioeconomic Australians, and those who have a CALD background.

Complementing existing commitments include:

  • Establishing a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to ensure secure well-paid jobs and increase regional development.

What next?

Watch this space as a White Paper will be released by the end of the year allowing for all members of the community to respond to the issues raised and outcomes suggested at the Jobs and Skills Summit.

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