ACCI releases blueprint to tackle labour and skills crisis

In response to Australia’s severe skills and labour crisis, today ACCI releases ‘Overcoming Australia’s Labour & Skills Shortages through Skills Development, Workforce Participation and Migration’ as part of its ‘Better Australia’ series.

“While we have had skills and labour shortages during previous economic cycles, never have they been as acute, necessitating a range of solutions to respond to this crisis,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.

“With the equal lowest unemployment in decades, the highest job vacancy rate since 2008 and the slowest population growth in over a century, the labour constraints faced by businesses will only worsen as the economy strengthens following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the recovery continues, we have a once in a generation opportunity to introduce landmark policy reform to help businesses access the skills and labour they need to power the economy forward.

“We must bring together smart solutions that increase investment in education and training, enhance workforce participation and rebuild sustainable migration to future-proof the labour market against recurring severe shortages.

“Apprentices and trainees are a key part of plugging our skills gap. The Federal Government’s incredibly successful Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program which provides a 50 per cent wage subsidy to employers is due to expire on 30 March. It is essential that the government announces in the Budget that a subsidy of at least 30 per cent is implemented to maintain the business case for employers taking on apprentices and trainees.

“We need to bring into the workforce as many as possible of the 580,000 unemployed and almost one million underemployed. There has never been a better time to tap into this pool of talent including the long-term unemployed, mature aged workers, youth, women and parents, and people with disability.

“In addition, we need to change the settings of our current migration program to increase the cap for skilled migration to 200,000 for the next two years at least, improve accessibility and responsiveness so as to provide a skilled workforce to fill gaps and additional labour that will complement our existing workforce.

“Skills. Participation. Migration. We need action in all three areas to make Australia the best place in the world to do business so that Australians have the jobs, opportunities and living standards to which they aspire.

Read ACCI’s workforce policy position paper: Overcoming Australia’s Labour & Skills Shortages through Skills Development, Workforce Participation and Migration.

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