The Business Council supports efforts to create an Australian labour market for the future through the government’s White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities, Business Council chief executive Bran Black said.
“The Employment White Paper’s five key policy areas are well targeted to deliver sustained employment growth, job security and productivity. These policy levers will drive a more dynamic economy, creating greater resilience, higher productivity and sustained wages growth, and improved living standards.
“Many of the issues raised align with the Business Council’s recently released Seize the Moment report, particularly the acknowledgement that to achieve sustainable real wages growth, we need to lift productivity. We are especially pleased to see reigniting productivity growth as a stand-alone government objective.
“While Australia’s labour market is close to full employment, the past decade was the slowest for productivity growth in 60 years.
“Productivity, high wages and economic growth are driven by unlocking the creativity and ingenuity of people. We strongly support the focus on skills in the White Paper and, in particular, the commitment to lifelong learning and the scoping work for a skills passport to make it easier for employers to hire people, and for potential employees to showcase their skills.
“The Business Council also supports the importance of better integration of higher education and VET, along with the expansion of micro-credentials to meet the increasing changing needs of businesses and workers. The BCA welcomes the government’s investment in new models of tertiary collaboration with industry, which will be crucial to ensure we have the skills for future, including the commitment to establish up to six TAFE Centres of Excellence.
“As detailed in Seize the Moment, we believe full employment is best achieved through creating a more dynamic economy. We acknowledge that the government has defined a broader, inclusive approach to full employment. The BCA supports the government's position that people who seek work should be able to find it in a timely manner and be part of an inclusive labour market. We have argued that there needs to be reform of employment services to be more demand-led and locally focused.
“The BCA accepts this inclusive definition of full employment is separate to the technical definition of full employment provided by NAIRU. This distinction should be paramount when finalising the next monetary policy agreement between the government and the new RBA governor. Pushing faster growth in the economy to achieve lower unemployment risks fuelling inflation, necessitating higher interest rates. Ultimately, this would hurt the very people the more inclusive employment objective is trying to help.
“We also believe the Federal Government’s workplace relations reforms will undermine the objectives set out in the White Paper. They will return the workplace relations system to an outdated model, unable to meet the expectations of both employees and businesses in the ways they seek to work today. It will risk fossilising industry structures and work practices when we know technology is going to change and people and workplaces need to adapt quickly. It runs the risk of doing this when economies that are more dynamic than ours are doing exactly the opposite.
“If the Government is to achieve the task it has set itself in this White Paper, we encourage it to halt the current workplace relations changes and work constructively with business to identify challenges and find solutions that will deliver sustainable real wage increases for Australians."