Bill Shorten warns Australia risks becoming an “unskilled enclave” unless jobs and training given priority

Bill Shorten

By Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Bill Shorten will put creating new jobs, sustaining existing ones, and training and retraining Australian jobseekers at the heart of his economic agenda in a major speech on Tuesday.

In what’s seen as a formal opening to the political year, Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will spell out their priorities in addresses to the National Press Club this week.

While both leaders will be in the spotlight, given Turnbull is on the back foot, his Wednesday performance is the more politically important of the two. But Labor will be looking to Shorten’s speech to reinforce the momentum that has seen the Australian Labor Party ahead in the polls.

With jobs and employment security preoccupying many voters, Shorten will describe a good job carrying decent wages and conditions as “an anchor to society”.

“It fulfils the promise of reward for effort—and it confers the dignity of work, the pride that comes from supporting yourself and others,” Shorten says in an extract of his speech released ahead of delivery.

Read more: Young businesses and start-ups create and keep more jobs

Warning that Australia cannot be allowed to become “an unskilled enclave in a modernising Asia” Shorten will say the next phase of Labor’s plan for Australian jobs, after its attack on abuses in the work visa system, is about skills, training and apprenticeships. He will lay out “three fundamental principles”.

“All Australians should have access to the skills and training they need for decent jobs that allow them to support their family—throughout their working life.

“All participants in the economy—government, business and unions—should share responsibility for designing a high quality and seamless tertiary and vocational education system, producing job-ready graduates and workers.

“Every dollar of government funding should be directed to achieving the best student outcomes and the best employment opportunities—not wasting taxpayer money boosting private profits.”

Shorten will accuse the government of treating vocational education and training as a “second-class sector”. But TAFE “can be transformative for people who are doing it hard”. This training can bring new skills to Indigenous communities, help close the gender gap, and empower mature-age workers with the chance to retrain rather than being thrown on the scrap heap.

Australia needs “a training system that works in partnership with our world class universities”, and “it should be easy for Australians to move between TAFE and university and vice versa”, Shorten will say.

“Public TAFE has been neglected and disrespected for too long. In the past decade government spending on university students has increased by 45%. For TAFE, it’s actually declined in real terms,” he will say.

“A Labor government will work with the states to revitalise TAFEs as high-quality job centres for our cities, regions and suburbs.”

Shorten will also reiterate Labor’s commitment to work with states and major contractors to develop “apprenticeship and training plans” for major infrastructure projects that get federal funding—and to do something similar with defence contracts.

“I want one in every ten jobs, on every single priority infrastructure project, to go to an Australian apprentice. In the context of the last election, that meant at least 2,600 apprenticeship places.”The Conversation

Michelle Grattan is a professorial fellow at the University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Rohan Baker
Rohan Baker
5 years ago

Here’s one for you Bill, get government out of the way of businesses and reduce their compliance burden. Also reduce the corporate tax rate for businesses, abolish payroll tax and overhaul industrial relations.

Reduce input costs like electricity. Cancel the RET, build coal or nuclear power stations and stop funding renewables with tax payers money.

Encourage businesses to grow like The Donald is. Stop demonizing them. The government never value adds so employing more bureaucrats won’t grow the economy, it just shackles it.

But you’re a socialist ex unionist, who sees the hard work of others as property of the state. And so it goes. Overseas mostly.

5 years ago
Reply to  Rohan Baker

We’ve already got a government that is intellectually light years ahead of the regression that’s occurred in the US, I have no idea why you dragged Trump into this.

Attacking core services like healthcare doesn’t help economies in the long run, it shifts costs to government. The American government is being run unsustainibly and part of that is the healthcare cost burden it wears due to the vastly unsustainable system and vested interests that the Republicans have refused to deal with. They have come to the table with a plan to go backwards and no plan to go forwards. It’s funny that it’s had to be Rand Paul who shouted the loudest on this issue, which is a credit to him.

Trump got rich off abusing bankruptcy laws, and then his own branding (as opposed to being a means of production) and did this off inheriting his money from Dad. Turnbull by comparison started with very little, was a Lawyer, and Merchant Banker, and is now PM. The Turnbull government on the other hand is trying to find ways to reduce costs in the system by only having proven and efficient medicine being subsidised.

5 years ago

There are not enough jobs to go around. This is a statement of fact. There aren’t enough “jobs” being created. There probably won’t be in the economy of today.

That is because tomorrow’s paid work isn’t “jobs”, it has to be more about opportunities. Which is why Malcolm talks about “opportunity”. I could find someone enough paid work to fill a week, within an hour. Would they want to do it? Probably not, as it’s not glamorous.

SMEs find it hard to start, they find the regulations around law hard to navigate and assistance from government on all of these things slim pickings. But SMEs is what is needed. They are already the majority of the economy in terms of employment.

What is NOT needed is more Labor-mate-Job creation strategies like the folly that is “training”, which creates more unemployable youth with no experience and more debt, for things like being a Librarian and a Child Care worker. If Shorten is good at one thing, he’s good at spinning the old lies and desperate cr*p that Labor have spread for 30 years on this issue. We have a generation that can’t find work because they have no experience and all debt. Why are we wasting public money on spots for industries that don’t need it, then further condemning young people to illegally-low wages through “internships”? That’s a “dumb country”, not a smart one.

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