Indigenous Employment the Key, but Employer-Directed Training Critical

As GenerationOne employers, including member companies of the Business Council of Australia, gather at Parliament House today BCA President Tony Shepherd says employment is the key to ending Indigenous disadvantage, but jobs are only part of the solution.

“The people gathering in Canberra today represent what is now a majority of large Australian businesses that are showing the way in developing effective strategies to improve employment and other economic development opportunities for Indigenous Australians,” Mr Shepherd said.

The BCA’s 2012 Indigenous engagement survey showed that member companies recruited more than 2,000 new Indigenous employees and 700 new trainees over the year 2011–12. Almost a third of respondents reported having more than 50 Indigenous employees, 17 companies employ more than 250 Indigenous people and eight employ more than 500.

At least 50 member companies have Indigenous-specific employment and training programs, including Australian Employment Covenant jobs pledges and Reconciliation Action Plans. In addition to jobs, members are forging partnerships with communities, procuring Indigenous contracts and supplying pro bono contributions to strengthen capacity in Indigenous organisations.

“The jobs need to be there,” said Mr Shepherd. “But if those jobs are to be filled by Indigenous employees who are going to succeed and reach their full potential, there are other important elements as well. These include relationship building with Indigenous people and communities, and ensuring workplaces are culturally aware, respectful and inclusive.

“What is vital is the training and education pipeline that prepares people to take up opportunities offered through the Indigenous jobs market.

“The BCA shares GenerationOne’s concerns about the difficulty of recruiting and retaining people who are job-ready. There are many reasons for this, and while business is ready and willing to train people, employers also need the right kind of support from government to make Indigenous employment strategies viable and sustainable.

“The demand is there, but there needs to be an improved focus on getting the supply processes right. This is why the Business Council is working with GenerationOne and others to try to develop a new partnership model with government that recognises our different roles and responsibilities in supporting real and lasting change in this complex area. We congratulate GenerationOne on this great initiative.”

For further information contact:
Claire Tedeschi, Executive Director, Communications and Advocacy
Business Council of Australia
Telephone (03) 8664 2602 • Mobile 0457 822 642
www.bca.com.au