The 2022–23 October Budget invests in measures to support a labour market that delivers a productive, reliable and skilled workforce, and secure employment.
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The employment, skills and workplace relations initiatives in the 2022–23 October Budget deliver on the Government’s election commitments and the outcomes of the Jobs and Skills Summit in September 2022. The Budget measures reflect the Government’s plan to drive productivity growth, expand the capacity of the economy to alleviate supply constraints, boost wages and secure work, and tackle gender and other forms of inequality.
Skills and Training
The 2022–23 October Budget responds to Australia’s immediate skills needs and provides opportunities for Australians to get the skills they need for secure jobs now and to thrive in the future.
As announced at the Jobs and Skills Summit, the Australian Government is negotiating a $1 billion 12-month skills agreement with the states and territories, jointly funded from January 2023. It will position the VET sector, with TAFE at its heart, to provide high-quality, responsive, and accessible education and training.
The 12-month agreement includes:
- 180,000 additional Fee-free TAFE and vocational education places for students from January 2023, with extra support for participation of women and other priority groups.
- These places will target industries with severe skills shortages, including the care sector, technology and digital, hospitality and tourism, construction, agriculture, and industries important to sovereign capability.
- Fee-free places will be made available through public TAFEs, public dual sector providers and other community providers including First Nations Registered Training Organisations.
- $24 million to support the success of students with complex needs.
- $50 million for a TAFE Technology Fund to improve facilities across the country such as workshops, laboratories, and telehealth simulators.
- $7 million for essential vocational education and training (VET) data infrastructure reform.
This investment is in addition to the $1.6 billion the Commonwealth transfers to states and territories for skills and workforce development every year – a significant investment in supporting apprentices and other Australians undertaking training.
Other skills and training measures in the budget include:
- An additional $12.9 million to establish Jobs and Skills Australia and deliver on its responsibilities to inform strategies to tackle skill shortages and to plan for the future labour workforce Australia needs.
- Once established, Jobs and Skills Australia will be engaged to deliver a Clean Energy Capacity Study. This will provide insights into the skills needed to support the clean energy transition, helping to focus investment where it is needed most to build Australia’s future clean energy workforce.
- Further investments in meeting the growing skills demand in in the clean energy sector include:
- Committing $62 million in this Budget to help deliver the new Skilling the Clean Energy Workforce measure to support 10,000 New Energy Apprenticeships.
- This measure will provide apprentices working in clean energy sector roles with up to $10,000 to help meet cost of living pressures and to stay in training, reflecting the Government’s commitment to boosting apprenticeship participation and completion rates.
- An Australian Skills Guarantee to ensure one in 10 workers on major, federally funded government projects are an apprentice, trainee, or paid cadet, with a particular focus on supporting women, through specific targets for their participation.
- A National Study on Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Literacy Skills, to be led by Jobs and Skills Australia. This will provide up-to-date evidence on the foundation skills levels among Australian adults. This will assist governments, education and training providers and the community sector to better understand people’s needs and target policies and programs to address them.
- An investment of $22.6 million for additional In-Training Support places for apprentices in regional and remote areas. In-Training Support services are based on assessment of individual need and may include pastoral care, mentoring, counselling, career guidance, industry mentoring, conflict resolution and referral to other specialist services.
This Budget identified the following responsible savings measures:
- The Supporting Women’s Mid-Career Transition into the Tech Workforce measure will be redesigned, creating a $4 million saving.
- The Mid-career Checkpoint pilot program will cease at the end of its pilot period on 31 December 2022, delivering a saving of $56.2 million.
- The budget for the final year of the Industry Training Hubs pilot program will be reduced by $9 million to align the budget funding more closely with the level of actual expenditure in previous years.
Employment and Workforce
The Government remains committed to a system which gets job seekers ready for work while claiming Job-Seeker Payments, through employment programs which deliver value for money.
The Government is also committed to ensuring there’s adequate employment in all areas – particularly in regional Australia – dealing with a shortfall of workers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The October 2022–23 Budget will deliver:
- $25.8 over four years to expand and reform the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme, including measures to make the scheme more attractive for workers and Australian industry.
- $34.8 million to provide a more integrated Workforce Australia experience by integrating the Skills for Education and Employment, Self-Employment Assistance, and Harvest Trail Services programs to the Workforce Australia Digital Platform. This move will result in improved program delivery, better participant engagement and achieve easier provider administration and reporting on program activities and outcomes.
This Budget identified the following responsible savings measures:
- the ReBoot program will no longer proceed, achieving savings of $42.1 million.
- Youth Jobs PaTH – Internships and the National Work Experience Program will be ceased, achieving combined savings of $50 million.
The measures in the 2022–23 October Budget will deliver a fairer workplace relations system that will deliver secure jobs and better pay for all Australians. They are focused on getting wages moving, providing secure work for more people, and tackling entrenched gender inequality.
The measures in this Budget centre on better wages and conditions. They include:
- $32 million over 4 years to ensure there are properly funded working women’s centres in every state and territory. These centres provide information, advocacy, advice and assistance to women on workplace issues including workplace sexual harassment.
- $15.1 million over 4 years for the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace. This reflects the Government’s commitment to implement all recommendations of the Respect@Work Report.
- $20.2 million over 4 years will be provided to the Fair Work Commission to establish a Pay Equity Expert Panel, a Care and Community Sector Expert Panel, and a specialised research unit. This will inform and improve the Commission’s capacity to assess pay equity claims and help address the workforce challenges in the female-dominated care and community sector.
- $3.4 million over 4 years to support small businesses to understand and implement the entitlement of 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave.This will help small business to provide the best support to their employees experiencing family and domestic violence.
- $7.9 million over 4 years for the Fair Work Commission to provide proactive support for workers and businesses – in particular small business – to help reach agreements that benefit them.
- $6.4 million over 4 years to enhance existing small claims court processes to better support workers to recover unpaid entitlements. The Government will also fund a review of the small claims process to identify further reform opportunities.
- $8.9 million over 3 years to workers and business representatives through reinstating the Productivity, Education and Training Fund and providing funding to support Safe Work Australia union and employer members.
- $69.9 million over 4 years for the Fair Work Ombudsman to regulate the workplace laws in the building and construction industry, following the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). This Budget also abolishes the Registered Organisations Commission, transferring its regulatory functions to the Fair Work Commission.
The Government will legislate to enshrine job security in the Fair Work Act 2009 by introducing a statutory limitation on the use of fixed-term contracts beyond 2 years or 2 consecutive contracts, unless genuinely necessary and appropriate.
Legislation will be introduced to include gender equity as an object of the Fair Work Act 2009 and to introduce a statutory equal remuneration principle to guide the way the Fair Work Commission considers equal pay cases. This includes that gender-based assumptions must not be considered in the assessment of work value.