A review into Australia's approach to industrial relations (IR) and vocational training is central to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's plan to rebuild Australia's economy in the wake of COVID-19.
Addressing the National Press Club this afternoon, the PM announced the Government's new 'JobMaker' plan under which business will support the revitalisation of Australia's economy.
A review into the country's IR laws will be conducted by the Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter, bringing together employee representatives and government to charter a "practical reform agenda".
Five working groups chaired by Porter will develop the government's JobMaker plan, specifically targeting the following areas:
- Award simplification;
- Enterprise agreement making;
- Casuals and fixed term employees;
- Compliance and enforcement; and
- Greenfields agreements for new enterprises.
Membership for each of the five working groups will include employer representatives, union representatives, and individuals chosen based on their demonstrated experience and expertise.
Morrison says the current IR framework in Australia needs to be overhauled to tackle the challenges faced by the economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Our industrial relations system has settled into a complacency of unions seeking marginal benefits and employers closing down the system," Morrison said.
"It is a system that has to date retreated to tribalism, conflict, and ideological posturing.
"This will need to change or more Australians will unnecessarily lose their jobs and more Australians will be kept out of jobs."
These processes will be time bound and run through to September.
The simplification of skills training for Australians is also a key tenant of the PM's plan to create jobs.
As it stands today, the PM describes the nation's training programs as "clunky" and "inconsistent" across states.
To resolve the issues the PM sees with training and skills nationally the Government has three areas of focus: faster development of programs, consistent pricing and funding of training programs, and the quality of the programs.
A series of 'skills organisational pilots' have already been established and tested by the Federal Government to address the problems identified by the PM.
These three pilot programs were for human services, digital technologies and mining. The PM says the fast-tracked human services pilot program has been leveraged during the COVID-19 recovery phase already to support an increased demand for these skills.
"It is no wonder that when faced with this complexity many potential students default to the University system, even if their career could be best enhanced through vocational education," the PM said.
"I want those trade and skills jobs to be aspired to, not looked down upon or seen as a second best option, it is a first best option."
The Government will also establish a National Skills Commission which will deliver detailed market analysis of the skills shortages in Australia and publish real time data on the labour market to flag emerging skills shortages.
The PM hopes this Commission will help students with developing careers while studying or choosing where to study and will enable those looking to upskill to best determine where the jobs actually are.
Updated 1:43pm AEST on 26 May 2020.
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