Employment

Although job creation is closely linked to increased economic growth, a supportive regulatory framework, a progressive skilled migration program and effective employment services contribute to increased job opportunities and an efficient workforce.

This is why it is crucial to get employment policy settings right. Helping those most marginalised from the workforce to obtain and retain a suitable job is critically important to the economy, the social fabric of society, and the financial and social wellbeing of the individual.

Employment services provided by the Federal Government through JobActive and Disability Employment Services need to focus on delivering services for many more employers than is being achieved under the current system.

Understanding the needs of business and actively working with employers to better match jobseekers with jobs will benefit the employer as well as the jobseeker.

Smart policy that provides more opportunity for the long term unemployed and young people with limited work exposure is needed in order to develop basic employability skills and work-relevant vocational skills.

As an alternative to Work for the Dole, the Australian Chamber supports a model that incorporates structured training with work placement and experience within small businesses.

This means job seekers are acquiring skills and experience that will lead to real jobs.

Career advice must be freely available and provide relevant information for job seekers that match their circumstances.

Too many decisions about education and life choices are being made without the benefit of knowing where the jobs are now and will be in future.

Once employed, workers need programs that help maximise ongoing participation. Accessible, flexible and affordable childcare is central to ensuring workers can stay in the workforce.

When considering the allocation of government subsidies for childcare, the focus should be placed on assisting those who genuinely need the most help.

Australians are now more highly educated than they have been, with attainment of qualifications on the increase.

This means the expectation they will have access to high-skill jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, which will reward them commensurately for their efforts, has also increased. At the same time, there will be jobs which require relatively low skills.

As we educate our population, and the working age population reduces, we will require people to come from other countries to fill the growing gap in lower skilled areas, as well as to assist in skill deficits.

It is essential that Australia has a positive and robust skilled migration program. Criticism of this important workforce policy has undermined community confidence in the migration system.

This in turn has undermined the ability of employers to secure skilled workers from overseas, when they cannot source workers domestically.

Many of the concerns raised against the skilled migration program could be addressed through an adequately funded multi-agency compliance regime that enforces current legislation and work rights rather than calling for new rules every time an issue arises.

Recommendations: 
 
2.1 Better focus employment services on understanding and satisfying the needs of employers in each industry including providers working in partnership with industry bodies.
 
2.2 Improve the transition for young people from education to work through better career development, improved job readiness, more apprenticeships, and workplace regulation that encourages employment.
 
2.3 Reduce unemployment by introducing an alternative to Work for the Dole through placement in small businesses and the provision of structured training.
 
2.4 Improve access to better and affordable child care aimed at workforce participation by supporting policies that broaden the options for parents including access to subsidies for nannies, the development of new visa arrangements for au pairs and the opportunity to apply for HECs style loans to provide assistance to parents during the years of maximum child care costs. Ensure fiscal affordability of child care by applying means testing to a simplified single subsidy which targets lower income earners.
 
2.5 Develop a strong evidence based approach to labour force analysis and forecasting across all government portfolios.
 
2.6 Raise the community’s understanding of the value that skilled migration brings to the economy and society and focus the improvement in migration outcomes on compliance and education rather than more regulation.

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