The Federal Government’s Jobs & Skills Summit was recently held in Canberra on the 1st and 2nd of September. Ai Group attended and participated in the Summit on behalf of its Members and industry. Ai Group played a significant role in representing and advocating for the collective interests of employers at the Summit.

The Jobs & Skills Summit provided a discussion around skills and labour shortages, getting people into work, getting more people skilled and work ready, and boosting productivity performance.

There were 36 outcomes from the Summit, including:

  • An additional $1 billion in joint Federal-State funding for fee-free TAFE in 2023 and accelerated delivery of 465,000 fee-free TAFE places;
  • Amending the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to strengthen access to flexible working arrangements, make unpaid parental leave more flexible and strengthen protection for workers against discrimination and harassment;
  • Removing complexity from enterprise bargaining, including making the Better Off Overall Test simple, flexible and fair;
  • Ensuring the process for terminating enterprise agreements is fit for purpose and fair and providing a process for the sunsetting of “zombie” agreements;
  • Improving access to jobs and training pathways for women, First Nations people, regional Australians and culturally and linguistically diverse people;
  • An increase in the permanent Migration Program ceiling to 195,000 in 2022-23 to help ease widespread, critical workforce shortages; and
  • Extending visas and relaxing work restrictions on international students to strengthen the pipeline of skilled labour, and providing additional funding to resolve the visa backlog.

A full list of the outcomes from the Summit can be located here. The Federal Government has committed to ongoing engagement with industry.

There are a number of issues of concern in the workplace relations space which will likely require months of detailed negotiations with the Government and unions. The announcement of planned legislation to expand access to multi-employer agreements will require careful consideration. Ai Group has made it clear to the Federal Government that it would be a red line for us if the legislation opened a new front for industrial action across the country involving entire industries.

Post the Summit, Brent Ferguson, Head of National Workplace Relations Policy has been back in Canberra participating in follow-up talks with the Federal Government on various industrial relations issues.

Leading up to the Summit, Ai Group participated in dozens of policy roundtables organised by the Federal Government. The Summit and these roundtables were just the start of a year-long Employment White Paper process which will give Ai Group many opportunities to represent its Member’s interests in the year ahead. The Federal Government has said that it will release the terms of reference for the Employment White Paper and begin accepting submissions later this month. 

Members can find Ai Group’s statements, media releases and opinion pieces on Summit-related matters here.

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