White Paper Jobs and Opportunities unveiled.
Jim Chalmers’ White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities has been praised as a welcome first step. Image: Canva.
  • Jim Chalmers has released his proposals to improve Australian labour market.
  • The proposal details five broad objectives.
  • MBA, The Property Council, and UDIA respond to the recommendations.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ recently released Working Future white paper has broadly garnered support as the first step towards addressing some of the ongoing challenges.

The 252-page blueprint outlines ‘practical actions’ and recommendations to deliver better outcomes for Australia’s labour market.

The paper details five objectives expected to fortify the nation’s labour market, including:

  • Delivering sustained and inclusive full employment.
  • Promoting job security and strong, sustainable wage growth.
  • Reigniting productivity growth.
  • Filling skills needs and building future workforce.
  • Overcoming barriers to employment and broadening opportunity.

MBA praises higher emphasis on VET

Master Builders Australia (MBA) CEO, Denita Wawn, welcomed the paper’s recommendation of a more coordinated approach to the Vocational Education and Training system (VET).

Earlier this year, MBA released its own blueprint which aimed to incentivise more students towards VET. The industry body forecasted the need for 486,000 new entrants to the industry over the next three years.

“The investments in skills and training, better integration of tertiary education, and the development of higher and bachelor-equivalent apprenticeships will help address the bias that exists with going to university over VET.”

Denita Wawn, MBA CEO

“However, the role of not-for-profit, industry-led registered training organisations should be recognised in developing these pathways.

“The nature of work in the industry is evolving due to increasing business specialisation, more offsite building, technology integration and complex regulatory requirements but what we know is vocational education is and will remain crucial to the workforce.

“Policies that prioritise attracting, recruiting, training and retaining workers in the industry will be vital to ensure Australia’s housing and infrastructure needs can be delivered.”

Property Council: White Paper a ‘welcome first step’

The Property Council of Australia (PCA) praised the White Paper as a welcome first step in addressing labour shortages crucial in addressing the housing crisis.

“We need to boost our pool of skilled labour that the construction sector needs to meet the government’s 1.2 million new home ambition, including 80,000 new homes each year for the next decade in Victoria,” said Property Council group executive policy and advocacy, Matthew Kandelaars.

“We welcome the release of the white paper that highlights the need for a bigger, better-skilled workforce, as well as investments in domestic skills and training and targeted migration pathways.”

Kandelaars also urged State Premiers to join their voices to encourage the Australian Government to bring in a greater share of construction and specialist trades.

UDIA sounds alarm on ‘weaknesses’ in job market

“For the housing industry, it is critical that we address critical weaknesses in the jobs market caused by a deeply constrained workforce and the lack of skilled workers during lockdowns –  a workforce that has not recovered to this day,” said the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) national president, Maxwell Shifman.

Shifman added that even with the latest figures showing a current increase in immigration, skilled permanent immigration is 17% below pre-Covid levels and temporary skilled visas are 7% lower than needed.

“This means industry is struggling to get back to its pre-Covid capacity – at a time when construction costs were 40% cheaper and yet housing deliver was still constrained.

“Now, as construction costs have settled into a new high, we have substantially less capacity to deliver the housing we need.”

Shifman said over the coming months, key industries will dissect the plan and workshop with Government on its implementation.

“This consultative approach gives us confidence that the systemic issues from a lack of skilled workers can be addressed.”

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