As the Jobs and Skills summit kicks off, Treasurer Jim Chalmers has urged attendees to focus on boosting Australia’s productivity, saying it “flows from investing in our people and their ability to adapt and adopt new technology”.
142 representatives from across Australian governments, business, industry groups, unions, universities, think tanks, and community organisations have gathered in Parliament House for the two-day summit.
The Treasurer said the adoption of new technology was a source of productivity gain for Australia.
“Productivity flows from investing in our people and their ability to adapt and adopt new technology – in new industries and in areas of traditional industrial strength as well,” Mr Chalmers said.
“Investing in the productivity of our people and businesses, and maintaining full employment, should be the first things we agree because our future prosperity, in large part, depends on them.”
“Last year’s Intergenerational Report showed real GDP growing at 2.6 per cent over the next 40 years, compared to the average of 3 per cent. The last decade has been the worst for productivity in 50 years – effectively, a lost decade.
“As a share of the economy, business investment has been trending down since 2012 and is now at the lowest level since 1992 – around the time Australia was in recession. Australia does have a productivity problem which has become a growth problem and a wages problem. Real wages are lower today than they were a decade ago.”
The Treasurer argued that if Australia’s productivity remains at 1.2 per cent and does not return to the 1.5 per cent assumed in the Intergenerational Report, gross national income per person will be $13,000 lower per person in real terms by 2060.
“We must make productivity growth an urgent task, a national task, a task for all of us. Not just because higher profits depend on it, but because higher wages depend on it. An economy capable of sustaining full employment depends on it,” Mr Chalmers said.
The ministerial leads at the Jobs and Skills summit are:
- Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor on skills
- Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil on migration
- Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth on participation
- Minister for Finance Katy Gallagher on equal opportunities for women
- Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke on bargaining and job security
- Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic on the future potential of our industries.
- Assistant Minister for Energy and Climate Change Jenny McAllister.
Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.