The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) has released its 2013 National Workforce Development Strategy. It says Australia’s workforce will grow by 3.5 million people by 2025, with better skills and productivity key factors in maintaining economic growth. The strategy relies on modelling based on several factors, including “labour force, industrial and workplace trends”. It predicts 70% of people will need post-school qualifications – compared to 60% today – as “three out of five new jobs will be technical, professional or managerial”. It says health care, social services, professional, scientific, technical services and education and training will be the most rapidly expanding industries, accounting for 50% of new jobs. “Economic restructuring will continue, maybe at an even faster pace, hence a critical element will be Australians having the skills they need to adapt to the change and transitions which occur,” AWPA chair Philip Bullock said. The strategy recommends “driving improved productivity” by improving management. “Our modelling shows increased demand for managers across all scenarios and we would want them to have the skills to foster innovation within organisations”, the strategy says. “Yet while many Australian firms perform well in operations management and the production of goods and services, there is evidence that fewer make the connection with developing their human capital to add value to their organisations.” It says enterprises would increase productivity “if effective management practices are incorporated into their business operations”. The strategy also recommends lifting the participation rate, “including focusing on marginal and older workers and men and women in non-traditional occupations”. The strategy has been presented to federal skills & tertiary education minister Chris Bowen.
457 debate reignites
The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) seized on the strategy’s findings to renew calls for expanding the subclass 457 visa scheme. “The report gives us a roadmap for our long-term skills development but in so doing adds weight to the vital importance of skilled migration, including 457 visas, in supporting our economy in the short and medium term,” Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said. ACCI director of employment, education & training Jenny Lambert noted the 457visa system had become a “political football”. “The primary goal is common ground for unions and employers and, despite union scaremongering, Australians should not be concerned the valuable skilled migration program, including temporary 457 visas, detracts from the primary goal of opportunities for Australians,” Lambert said. “Skilled migration is just one important component of a total workforce development task facing this country,” she said. However, Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union national construction division secretary Dave Noonan rubbished employer group claims 457 workers were necessary to fill skills shortages. Noonan, a fierce critic of alleged “rorts” under the 457 visa system, cited Department of Immigration and Citizenship data showing a 28% increase in the number of 457 visa workers in the construction industry in the past 12 months. He compared that data with ABS statistics from May 2011 to November 2012 showing construction jobs had decreased by 3.7%. Noonan claimed Coalition plans to ramp up the 457 visa system would have “serious consequences for job security” for local workers and “undermine investment in apprenticeships and training”. He said labelling critics of the 457 visa system as “xenophobes” was “completely hollow”. “Our union is made up of people from every country on earth and we have always supported a fair and non-discriminatory immigration system,” Noonan said.
Source: Workforce, 15/3/2013