Companies call for a ‘catch-up’ migration as participants position themselves ahead of Albanese jobs summit

Big business wants a “recovery boost” for permanent migration, with at least two-thirds of places earmarked for skilled workers,

In proposals for next month’s jobs and skills summit, Australian Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott also stressed the need to immediately address “the backlog of visa approvals across all categories because we just don’t have enough people to get things done.

Migration, labor market reform and skills shortages will be central issues at the summit. After a report over the weekend that the government wanted to increase the influx of migrants to between 180,000 and 200,000, Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor told reporters the government had not yet set its sights on a number.

Under the Morrison administration, the planning level for the 2022-23 migration program was 160,000, 109,900 of them in the qualified stream.

Immigration is always a sensitive debate, both in terms of numbers and the balance between importing skills and training locals.

Westacott said: “We need to move from a short-term ad hoc system to long-term planned migration with a focus on four-year visas, pathways for permanent migration and future planning for our population growth so that we get housing, transportation. and right health services.

Regarding labor relations, he said that the summit must agree on the need to “restore the role of collective bargaining as the central piece” of the system “because it offers better results for both workers and employers.”

It had to “be accessible to different types of employers. It also has to be much simpler and easier to navigate.”

“By reviving the ability of business deals to be genuine substitutes for awards, we will once again attract innovation and investment to drive productivity growth and real wages.

“To be successful, we must remove the red tape and roadblocks that prevent companies, unions and workers from negotiating new deals in a simple and effective way that is easy to use.”

Westacott said that in relation to upskilling, the tertiary education system needed a redesign “to make it look and feel different to students and employers. It must be more interoperable between VET and higher education and focus on students and their employers”.

Last week, the ACTU published the first of its documents before the summit, in which it called for the regulation of labor markets “so that real wages rise in tandem with labor productivity.”

He also called for an excess profits tax on businesses that made windfall profits as a result of current inflation, and for the cancellation of Legislated Stage 3 tax cuts “which only benefit higher-income households and will exacerbate pressures.” inflationary”.

The government has scrapped a superprofit tax and reneged on tax cuts, and Treasurer Jim Chalmers quickly distanced himself from these union calls.

The summit has seen the federal opposition at six and seven, with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton turning down an invitation to attend, but Nationals leader David Littleproud says he is keen to go to represent regional communities.

Chalmers will publish a discussion paper for the summit this week.

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