The employment white paper released by the Albanese government on Monday outlines measures to assist the approximately three million individuals seeking employment or more work hours. These measures include making temporary provisions permanent for pensioners to earn more without reducing their pension, easing the transition to work for welfare recipients, and addressing the disadvantages faced by the unemployed.
Australia currently has low unemployment and high participation rates, but labour market conditions are expected to soften.
It discusses broadening opportunities and reducing underemployment, such as skills mismatches, geographic disparities, and discrimination, which hinder employment. The report cites an approach involving sound macroeconomic management, improving education, migration systems, and regional planning, and enhancing employment services, affordable childcare, and housing. It also focuses on equipping the workforce with future-oriented skills and promoting adaptability in the labour market.
The report highlights the significance of increasing workforce participation for social inclusion and economic growth. It identifies regions with high long-term unemployment rates, accounting for 12% of all long-term unemployed individuals despite comprising only 5% of the working-age population. Persistent disadvantage and discrimination contribute to intergenerational cycles of joblessness, compounded by limited access to services and affordable housing.
The white paper acknowledges five major forces shaping the economy: an ageing population, increased demand for care services, digital and advanced technologies, the transition to net-zero emissions, and geopolitical risks.
Speaking with the ABC, Tom Symondson, CEO of Aged & Community Care Providers Assocation (ACCPA), is encouraged to see aged care’s employment issues addressed in the white paper.
“Australia’s aged care sector is crying out for more workers, so we support any policy moves to help alleviate the problem,” Mr Symondson said.
“It has been estimated that Australia will need at least 17,000 more direct aged care workers each year just to meet the standard of care our community expects. Over the next decade, the total figure will spiral to some 110,000 while the population ages, so we’re pleased something is being done,” Mr Symondson added.