Employers welcome the Government’s commitment today to invest in the infrastructure and education services that regional Australia needs to thrive, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“Today’s announcement is an important step towards unleashing the full potential of regional Australia by providing funding for regional education and giving young people the opportunity to study locally. We have long called for a comprehensive approach to regional planning and to giving Australians in regional areas the opportunities they deserve.
“Employers want to invest more in new projects, new jobs and higher wages, which they can do if the settings are right. We now need a renewed focus on how businesses can work with communities to help build an even stronger regional Australia.
“The best way to ensure Australians in regional areas can get the new jobs they want is by giving them the skills and training they need over their working lives. That needs to include giving regional learners access to both universities and VET providers like TAFE.
“We need to build on the opportunities in our regions, which are the backbone of Australia. We need to make the regions more attractive, and we need to take the pressure off our capital cities, we can do that by investing in the right infrastructure at the right time.
“Over the past 12 months as we’ve travelled to Bathurst, Gladstone, Busselton, Toowoomba, Geelong, Townsville, Cairns, Hobart, Adelaide, Broadmeadows and Penrith the message from regional Australia has been clear, regional Australians want to get the settings right to get businesses investing in regional Australia. That’s why we developed A plan for a stronger Australia to deliver the practical action Australians want to lock in growth for the whole community.”
The Business Council has developed a to do list to make regional Australia even stronger.
The to do list:
Audit the strengths and weaknesses of key regional areas.
Target infrastructure dollars to regional centres with the best potential to grow.
Consider incentives such as fast-tracking planning approvals to encourage businesses to set up shop and invest in regional Australia.
Make sure regional centres are connected to other cities with good transport links for people and freight.
Make sure regional Australia has fast and reliable digital connections, including the National Broadband Network.
Urgently reform the post-secondary education and skills system. Remove the cultural and funding bias against vocational education and training by moving to a single funding model for both VET and higher education.
Set up a single information platform so students and workers have a one-stop-shop to find out about jobs in demand, potential earnings, what to study, how long it will take, and what it will cost.
Give every Australian a Lifelong Skills Account to pay for their training and education needs through their working lives, allowing them to choose where, what and when they study.
Create a national apprenticeship system that encourages employers to take on young workers.