Will JobMaker get people back to work and put money back in their pockets?

COVID-19 has brought us JobKeeper, JobSeeker and now JobMaker. Here’s everything you need to know about the Federal Government’s plans to move Australia’s economy out of “intensive care”, and create the jobs that were lost due to the coronavirus pandemic.

We all knew JobSeeker and JobKeeper weren’t the forever stimulus packages that many Australians hoped they would be. Australia, unfortunately, isn’t a bottomless barrel of money.

What we know is there will be no extension to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker packages despite the $60 billion JobKeeper error admitted by Treasury last week. Casuals and many other workers who fell through the cracks and out on payments, still won’t be receiving them

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We also know that these stimulus packages may not even last until September.

However, the pandemic has cut deeper than anyone could have imagined, with unemployment and underemployment set to rise further.

So what can be done?

This week, the government released its JobMaker plan designed to advance Australia’s vocation skills and industrial relations sector.

“Changing Australia’s skills and training system will be a JobMaker priority for national recovery, as we look to create jobs in a labour market undergoing major change,” the Prime Minister said.

“We need Australians better trained for the jobs businesses are looking to create.”

This works in favour of aspiring tradies, nurses and hairdressers. Tradies in particular were hit hard by the COVID-19 lockdown, with construction slowing substantially.

Federal Labor estimated that new housing starts in the residential sector could fall from 160,000 to 100,000, with many people failing to commit to projects due to wage and job anxiety.

When you consider, the construction and property sectors account for one in four jobs in NSW and about 8% of GDP, with significant flow-on effects through the economy, it is little wonder trades are being targeted so heavily as a major factor in Australia’s recovery.

In his address to the National Press Club on Tuesday, the prime Minister outlined plans to reform Australia's ‘clunky and unresponsive' training system. His intentions: to create jobs after at least 1.3million Australian were left out of work because of this strain of coronavirus.

Vocational courses are to be shaped by industry leaders. The number of programs are to be reduced to make it easier for young people to choose a career path.

Skills Organisation Pilots will be created to help the industry have a greater say in the training system; three pilots have already been established in the human services, digital technology and mining sectors with more to come.

Like it or not, the mining sector has a large role to play in Australia’s recovery. The resources sector generated $290 billion in export earnings last year. In the past 13 years, the industry has paid $234 billion in company tax and royalties. As Helen Coonan chairwoman of the Minerals Council of Australia points out, “that’s enough to build 9500 schools or 340 hospitals”.

Of course, the time is right for the government to also look at alternate sources of energy generation and alternative sources of wealth generation to rebuild the economy. This will come via growth industries including clean energy industries, cybersecurity and technology, but mining is here to stay and as such the workers within that industry need to be upskilled.

Technology is a key platform and is high up on the re-skilling and up-skilling agenda.

Echoing Prime Minister Morrison’s calls for greater focus on upskilling the workforce, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) CEO, Ron Gauci said: “In order to protect jobs of the future there must be greater alignment with the digital industry. Re-skilling the IT workforce through investment, planning and greater education will not only benefit businesses and organisations requiring these services, but also encourage skilled jobs in Australia to flourish.

The AIIA is Australia’s peak industry representative body for innovation technology.

Manufacturing, services, resources, agriculture and financial sectors have also been mooted as crucial to Australia's recovery.

Unions would also be happy with the creation of ‘working groups' for businesses and unions to come together and reform industrial relations.
Awards are expected to be simplified to help businesses employ more people.
Prime Minister Morrison expects it will take ‘three to five years' for Australia's economy to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

The timeline could have been much worse.

Like any program, JobMaker isn’t without its faults and it’s likely issues will be raised over the coming days, but with any luck this is a step in the right direction and will give struggling industries a boost and hard hit workers some hope for their own economic recovery.

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