The Business Council today releases two papers ahead of the government’s Jobs and Skills Summit, identifying the critical resets needed on skills and migration to lock in a stronger economy and better wages.
“It’s both homegrown and globally sourced skills that will drive Australia to the frontier, so we’ve got to get this right,” Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“As we reset our skills and education system to make it better suited for the 21st century, well managed migration will help fuel growth and give businesses access to skills in short supply.
“First, we need to make sure students leave school with strong foundation skills, a clear path and a comprehensive snapshot of their abilities and capabilities, not just a mark to define their future.
“And we have to finally redesign the tertiary system for the 21st century, making VET and university more interoperable and centred around learners and their employers.
“We need a system that lets Australians get the skills they need across institutions based on what they need.
“We’re calling for the introduction of a digital record that allows future employers to fully see and fully understand what people have learned through their courses and on the job.
“And crucially, we need a system that empowers the business community to train their people and do even more by recognising the work being done and providing incentives to see it expanded.”
“The summit is chance to reset our long-term migration program and manage the short-term challenge of labour force shortages across the whole economy.
“We can move forward if the summit agrees on the role of well-managed skilled migration as a key driver of Australia’s prosperity and an important part of shaping the economy and our society.
“We cannot reach the frontier without the knowledge and skills transfer that comes with well managed migration.
“Australia needs a skilled migration scheme that protects workers and builds confidence with a clear stand against exploitative practices.
“We need to move from a short-term, ad hoc system to long-term planned migration with a focus on four-year visas, pathways to permanent migration.
“And, we have to get better at planning for the future, managing our population growth so we get the housing, transport and health services right.
“We want to see a catch-up boost to the permanent migration program, with at least two-thirds of places for skilled workers.
“It’s also crucial to build confidence in our migration system, so we support moves to provide better information for visa holders, set a high bar for the treatment of migrant workers and toughen penalties for wilful and deliberate exploitation.
“In the short-term, we must urgently address the backlog of visa approvals across all categories because we simply don’t have enough people to do things.”
Download the skills paper here: Addressing skills shortages and getting our skills mix right over the long-term
Download the migration paper here: Improving migration settings to support higher productivity and wages