Employers have welcomed the Fed Govt’s new $298.5m package to help retrenched workers get back into the workforce, saying measures that reduced the time a person spent out of work were vital. But unions were less enthusiastic about the immediate hand outs and said more needed to be done to protect jobs and hold onto employees during the economic downturn.
Focus on skills and training, urges BCA
Business Council of Aust chief exec Katie Lahey warned there was still a risk that unemployment could rise “significantly” before the downturn ran its course. She said skills and development training should focus on investing in the skills that would be needed for jobs in the near future. “There’s expected to be a growing requirement for skilled workers in areas of social and economic infrastructure, such as in the health and aged care sectors,” she said. “Training and skills development should also ensure we are training people of all ages, not just young people. We must ensure we have as many workers as possible, from all age groups, as our population ages in the years ahead. Training should build on existing skills so we are enhancing the capabilities of our unemployed people to work in emerging job areas.”
Business should ‘pull out all the stops’, say unions
ACTU pres Sharan Burrow said the new funding package was welcome, but the focus should be on retention not retrenchment. That might mean businesses accepted a cut in profits and reduced pay for executives.
“The ultimate responsibility for preventing a blow out in unemployment rests with employers,” Burrow said. “They must pull out all stops to safeguard jobs and prevent redundancies so these services for retrenched workers will not be called on.”
Burrow urged the Fed Govt to consider further support for employers in hard-hit industries to keep workers in jobs through retooling and re-skilling and to provide income and training guarantees for employees.
“Businesses that do receive govt support have a special obligation to retain jobs at all costs,” she said.
The Fair Work Bill (HRR#434, 433, 431) would provide more security for jobs and incomes and shouldn’t be delayed, Burrow said. She particularly welcomed the 10,000 extra training places made available under the productivity places program (see Help for retrenched workers).