White Paper Outlines Measures To Build Future Workforce

Jobs plan includes a range of measures of direct relevance to Australia’s heavy vehicle industry

An employment white paper released this week by Federal Treasury details ambitious measures to build Australia’s future workforce, including those required to enable the transport industry’s transition to net-zero.

Titled Working Future: The Australian Government’s White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities, the paper provides a “roadmap” to position the Australian labour market for the future and outlines actions being taken and further reform directions required to achieve the Government’s key objectives of full employment, job security and sustainable wage growth, productivity growth, addressing skills shortages, and increasing labour force participation.

Central to these objectives, the paper says, is investing in the skills and capabilities of people so they can grasp the opportunities that flow from changes in Australia’s industrial base and workforce needs.

“This is especially important as our economy shifts from hydrocarbons to renewables; from information technology to artificial intelligence; from a younger to an older workforce; with growth in the care and support economy; and as global fragmentation puts pressure on supply chains,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Jim Chalmers write in the paper’s forward.

The white paper makes much mention of the transition to net-zero and the future workforce and skills required.

Within one of the roadmap’s 10 key policy areas – modernising industry and regional policy – the paper outlines a range of measures aimed at ensuring people, communities and businesses are positioned to withstand the challenges and reap the benefits of the transition to renewable energy  as well as rapid technological change under way.

On the pathway to net-zero, the paper commits the Government to developing a transport decarbonisation plan (one among six priority areas), requiring investments in clean energy infrastructure and technology.

It also notes the already announced $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund will provide finance to leverage Australia’s strengths in several priority areas, including transport.

This will also include up to $1 billion for advanced manufacturing, including a $100 million equity investment in the Australian Made Battery precinct.

The $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund will provide finance to leverage Australia’s strengths in several priority areas, including transport and advanced manufacturing, including batteries

On another of the roadmap’s core priority areas – workforce and skills development – the paper commits the Government to completing a Clean Energy Capacity Study which was commenced earlier this year by Jobs and Skills Australia; and developing a new National Energy Workforce Strategy by the end of 2024.

Additionally, a Net Zero Authority will be established to help communities take up clean energy measures and support workers in emissions-intensive sectors to access new skills.

Other measures of relevance to the heavy vehicle industry include creating up to six TAFE Centres of Excellence which will include a focus on training and industry partnerships to support emissions reductions targets; and a commitment to deliver 10,000 New Energy Apprentices by providing direct financial assistance to apprentices in the clean energy sector.

Meanwhile, to boost skilled labour availability the roadmap includes a range of measures aimed at boosting workforce participation and skilled migration.

To lift participation, the paper proposes allowing age pensioners to earn up to $300 a fortnight without affecting their pension, retaining welfare-related concessions for those on income support for longer once they enter the workforce (tackling disincentives to work), and introducing a national skills passport.

It also proposes changes to skilled migration, including better targeting skilled migration, improving the employment outcomes of international students and realising the employment potential of migrants – though the details of these measures are still being refined.

The paper also notes the need to increase the proportion of women in the transport sector as part of a broader approach to narrowing the gender pay gap.

While the white paper builds on the goodwill generated with the business sector at last year’s Jobs Summit, industry groups have criticised the Government’s proposed industrial relations changes (e.g. Closing the Loopholes Bill), which they say will drive uncertainty and insecurity.

If you are interested in contributing to HVIA’s advocacy on any of the above areas, don’t hesitate to reach out Adele Lausberg, Chief Advocacy Officer at a.lausberg@hvia.asn.au.

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