Federal Industry Minister Ed Husic will participate this week organize five invitation-only industry roundtables to discuss the challenges posed by skilled labor shortages ahead of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Jobs and Skills Summit to be held in Parliament the first week of september.
Mr. Husic will moderate two panel discussions on Wednesday, one focusing on digital and technology skills and the other on science and commercialization. It will host two on Thursday, the first focused on advanced manufacturing and the other on industrial unions.
A final round table is scheduled for Friday around Artificial Intelligence.
While each round table is expected to bring together around 30 participants, the minister’s office has not made its list of invitations public.
The Industry and Science Minister’s focus on cross-sector skills shortages comes as reports on Sunday suggest the government is preparing a plan to raise the annual cap on migration from its current cap of 160,000 to 180 000 or even 200,000 as a short to medium term measure.
Mr Husic also called on Australia’s chief scientist, Dr Cathy Foley, to increase job growth and skills development at her regular forums ahead of the September summit.
“Access to a skilled workforce is now one of the biggest challenges to Australia’s productivity and competitiveness,” Mr Husic said. “There is a shortage of skilled workers in most industries and it is essential that we rise to the challenge of supplying the people our country needs.
“During these roundtables, industry leaders will be able to share their ideas, challenges and aspirations on how the government can work with them to find solutions.”
He said discussions at the roundtables would include job opportunities in the industries of the future, the skills that would be in demand, as well as the challenges in attracting and retaining skilled workers.
Mr Husic has argued since before the election that skills challenges should be addressed through a mix of investment in training Australians as a priority, with skills migration helping to fill the gaps.
“While the priority will be the education and training of the domestic workforce – for young Australians and for workers seeking new careers – the management of appropriate skilled migration will also have an important role to play. and will be on the agenda,” Husic said.
“One of my priorities is ‘brain recovery’ – encouraging Australian researchers and innovators to return home. I’m interested to hear ideas on how best to achieve this,” he said.
“The Albanian government aims to create a sense of national purpose in our industrial development, with governments, industry and researchers working together, supported by the Australian people.”
Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor told a press conference in Melbourne on Sunday that skilled migration would play an immediate role in tackling the shortage, but would not put part of the cap on skilled migration.
“Of course, we will also rely on temporary visas and skilled permanent migration pathways. But it was never one or the other. It’s not a binary choice,” O’Connor said.
“It’s an investment in our labor market, our Australian workforce, to develop the skills that are in demand. And this is of course complemented by temporary and permanent skilled migration,” he said.
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