Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said the Jobs and Skills Summit, which took place in Canberra last week, was “far more successful than we could have hoped”.
The Summit saw unions, employers, civil society and governments come together to address Australia’s shared economic challenges and recommend immediate actions and opportunities for medium and long-term reform. Attendees included Australian Hotels Association CEO Stephen Ferguson, as a representative of the country’s hospitality industry.
The two-day event has raised 36 points and Albanese praised those who took part for contributing and presenting with depth and conviction and also for engaging and listening with respect.
“Across every panel, every presenter in every session was totally clear about the scale of the challenges we are facing,” the Prime Minister said after the Summit.
“No-one sought to downplay, or explain away the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
“And yet the prevailing atmosphere over the past two days has not been one of dejection or frustration or resignation.
“Instead, there has been a powerful sense of hope and optimism – a belief in the transformative opportunities this moment presents for our country.
“And above all, a determination to seize these opportunities, to make change work for everyone across our country.”
Albanese highlighted three particular areas raised at the Summit that will drive a difference.
“Firstly we are boosting our national skills with 180,000 fee-free TAFE places to launch a training blitz from 1 January 2023,” the Prime Minister said. “More Australians learning the skills they need, for the jobs they want. Helping more young people learn a trade and build a rewarding career.
“Alongside that, tackling the immediate shortages across the country, with an increase in the skilled migration intake to 195,000. But something in which there is clear consensus from people in this room, that we need a more straightforward and certain pathway to permanent residency.
“I believe there’s a very important and genuine consensus in this room and around our country that migration should not simply be about bringing in workers in to fill gaps, it should be about helping people put down roots, to join in the life of our country towns and suburbs.”
He added: Secondly, I’m very pleased we will be making up to $575m available within the National Housing Infrastructure Facility to invest in social and affordable housing and to attract more investment from private capital – such as superannuation funds – into housing.
“Because so many opportunities in life, depend on having a secure roof over your head.
“And thirdly, picking up on the very good discussions we’ve had around increasing workforce participation for older Australians.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that the Government will act to provide age pensioners with a new $4000 Work Bonus income bank credit. This will mean older Australians who want to work can earn more income before their pension is reduced.
“And we will move quickly to change the law, so that instead of pensioners having their payments cancelled after 12 weeks if they exceed the income limit, they won’t have to reapply for payments for up to two years, and they will retain the Pensioner Concession Card for two years as well.”
The PM closed the Summit saying: “Friends, we came here to find agreement. We have. Perhaps across a greater range of areas than we might have imagined or hoped. Let us leave here resolved to build on this foundation.”