Workers should be willing to move interstate or overseas for work, says the new president of the Business Council of Australia, Catherine Livingstone, according to Fairfax Media.
Despite recent research showing the majority of economic productivity in Australia is concentrated to the country’s central business districts because it offers better access to skilled staff, Fairfax reports the BCA thinks workers – not businesses – are the ones who should have to consider location.
Livingstone is to give her first major speech in her new role today, as she releases a report examining how the economy should transition from its reliance on the mining sector. A copy of the speech seen by SmartCompany shows that while Livingstone did not mention workers relocating, as anticipated by Fairfax, she did urge government to invest in innovation infrastructure.
“The … responsibility of government is to build the innovation infrastructure needed to support the agility of the Australian economy,” says Livingstone.
“This knowledge infrastructure resides in our governments, universities, national facilities and our companies and is refreshed through R&D and skilled and talented people.”
Fairfax reports the BCA wants an investment in infrastructure to make less developed states more attractive to workers and their families.
Livingstone and other key BCA members are also pushing companies to pay incentives to encourage workers to move, according to Fairfax.
A recent study revealed businesses may need to increase wages by as much as $25,600 in order to lure a potential employee to a remote or regional location in order to fill a skills shortage.
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany it was the combined responsibility of workers, business and government to move economic activity to where it is needed.
“Throughout history, people have moved to where the jobs are,” Strong says.
“We need to motivate workers, through rules and regulations, as well as support and information.”
Strong says traditionally companies have helped carry some of the burden of relocating, such as reimbursing some of the moving costs.
He says both government and business should do more to help partners and families, often the ones hardest hit by relocation, an easier transition into a new lifestyle.
“From a small business point of view, history shows that workers who relocate for large companies, their family members will seek work in smaller businesses,” Strong says.
“This increases the number of people in the market place and is good news for retailers, suppliers and all sorts of small businesses.”
Livingstone also used her speech to discuss the importance of businesses participating in digital economy and embracing entrepreneurship.
“This is another much longer conversation, but nothing short of a major intervention and reset is required on this issue,” she says.
“Ultimately, our core comparative advantage is our people. We must equip them with the skills they need and ensure that they have the opportunity for meaningful jobs.”