The Jobs and Skills summit was held on 1 – 2 September 2022.
The summit took place at Government House, where a number of representatives from unions, government, employers and civil society members discussed various issues surrounding Australia’s current skill shortage, among other topics. The HR Outsourcing team here at Polyglot Group have outlined the key takeaways from that summit, below.
Permanent Migration Program
– The government has announced that they will increase the migration cap to 195,000 (from 160,000) in 2022-23.
This drastic increase in the migration cap is done to mitigate the critical workforce shortage in Australia.
– An additional $36.1 million in funding to speed up visa processing and reduce the current backlog.
The federal government will spend $36.1 million and hire 500 surge employees over the next nine months to process Australia’s crippling backlog of open non-humanitarian visa applications.
– Post-study work rights will allow recent graduates, who are part of the Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) in select degrees, to be eligible for two additional years of stay.
Under new visa regulations, international students will have an additional two years to reside and work in Australia. The initiative is a first step towards encouraging more international students to pursue pathways leading to permanent migration, but it will only be available to those who complete programmes in fields where there is a lack of skilled labour, such as nursing, teaching, IT, and engineering. Under the new rules, bachelor degree holders will now be permitted to stay for four years instead of just two. Master’s graduates’ post-study work-rights visas will expand from three to five, while PhD graduates’ stay period will increase from four to six years.
– Extend the relaxed work restrictions placed on student and training visas until 30 June 2023.
Previously Students were allowed to work only for 40 hours per fortnight whereas now students are allowed to work as many hours as they like in any industry.
Skills / Workforce Shortage
Correct as of August 2022, Australia’s unemployment rate is 3.5%. The second-lowest it has ever been. As such, the government has focused on addressing Australia’s skills shortage.
TAFE (Technical and Further Education)
– Additional funding for fee-free TAFE of $1 billion through a one-year National Skills Agreement will be provided for 2023.
– Accelerate delivery of 465,000 additional fee-free TAFE places.
180,000 of those places will be delivered next year, 2023.
Jobs & Skills Australia Statutory Body
The government plans to legislate Jobs & Skill Australia. This body is in response to Australia’s labour crisis and skills shortage. The bill was first introduced in July 2022. Jobs & Skills Australia will replace the current National Skills Commission. Once established, Jobs & Skills Australia will be commissioned to undertake a workforce capacity study for the clean energy sector.
Job Security, Wages & Workplaces
National Construction Industry Forum
The National Construction Industry Forum is a tripartite meeting between businesses, unions and the government to address issues in the industry. The construction sector is Australia’s third-largest industry. It produces around 9% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product and is the most male-dominated industry in the country.
The forum will look at the following issues:
– Mental health
– Gender equity
Fair Work Act
The Fair Work Act will be updated. The planned key updates are planned to provide employers and employees:
– Ability to negotiate in good faith for agreements that benefit them
– Flexible options for reaching agreements
– Remove unnecessary limitations on access to single and multi-employer agreements
– Continue to negotiate enterprise-level agreements (who have already successfully done so)
The Fair Work Commission will have the ability to help workers and employers (especially new entrants, and small and medium businesses) reach agreements.
Additionally, the Fair Work Act will be updated to provide better:
– Access to flexible work arrangements
– Support for employer bargaining representatives and union delegates
– Protections from discrimination, harassment, and adverse action towards workers
Equal Opportunities & Reducing Employment Barriers
Employers with 500+ employees will be required to commit to improve workplace gender equality and provide measurable targets
Employers with 100+ employees will be required to publicly report their gender pay gap to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
Australian Public Service will be required to set targets to better their gender equity and will need to report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
Will be strengthened through providing employers and unions a permanent seat at the table. They, with the government and civil society, will support women’s safety and respect in the workplace.
Carer Friendly Workplace Framework
Provide a self-assessment tool and learning modules for employers. These can be used to help businesses be recognised as a carer friendly workplace.
The outcomes and developments from the Jobs & Skills Summit will impact and change Australia’s workforce. We hope the above takeaways provided you insight into how those changes might affect your company. These were just some of the key takeaways from the summit if you wish to read the full report, you can access it here.