investor daily logo

Expectations 'realistic' ahead of jobs summit

4 minute read

This week’s jobs and skills summit will tackle wages, skills shortages, and productivity, but while super fund bosses made the cut, the big banks' chief executives do not feature among the invitees.

The government's jobs and skills summit, first announced in July, will convene in Canberra on 1 and 2 September, bringing together around 140 people including super fund bosses and state premiers, but shunning the bank CEOs.

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said “expectations are realistic” ahead of the big convening of business, unions, and government.

“We're just looking for those areas of broad common ground so that we can move forward together, whether it be on getting wages growing again after a decade of stagnation, whether it's boosting productivity by investing in our people and their skills, whether it's dealing with these skills and labour shortages,” Mr Chalmers said.

“We've been really energised and really enthused by the genuine spirit of collaboration and cooperation that has emerged in the lead up to the summit. We're realistic about what it might agree on, but we are confident that by tapping this spirit that exists in the community that we can move forward together,” he continued.

Ahead of the summit, the ACTU and peak business groups announced the launch of their Statement on Common Interests on Skills and Training, which makes several recommendations to tackle “today's workforce and skills shortages”.

Among them is the revitalisation of the Vocational and Education Training system, and the establishment of Jobs and Skills Australia.

Commenting on the statement, Mr Chalmers said he is “heartened” by “people's willingness to see where there are common interests”.

“I have detected over the last three months or so, but particularly in recent weeks, a real hunger for some real talk about our economic challenges and a real appetite to work together to address them. We are realistic about that, we're not naive about it, we don't think that everybody's going to have exactly the same view, and we won't be able to progress every idea that's pitched up. But by bringing people together, we give ourselves every chance to rise to this occasion, and to meet this moment,” the Treasurer said.

Big bank CEOs excluded

Commenting on his decision to keep the big bank CEOs off the guest list, Mr Chalmers said “it's not possible to fit everyone that you would like to fit in a jobs summit”.

“The bank CEOs will be represented very capably by Anna Bligh, who's the head of the Banking Association. And in a number of instances, we've got peak groups there representing a broader constituency and I think that's as you'd expect.

“I speak to the bank CEOs all the time in my job. I spoke to one about the summit during the course of the week, and I've had meetings with all of them in the last month or so. And they're obviously providing key input into our economic policies, that's not a surprise to anyone,” the Treasurer explained.

The government confirmed earlier it would publish a white paper based on the outcomes of the summit. The key themes of the summit include maintaining full employment and growing productivity; boosting job security and wages; lifting participation and reducing barriers to employment; maximising opportunities in the industries of the future; and delivering a high-quality labour force through skills, training and migration.

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja's career in journalism spans well over a decade across finance, business and politics. Now an experienced editor and reporter across all elements of the financial services sector, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies.