Mixed bag budget to maintain business recovery but challenges remain

29 Mar 2022 |

Tonight’s budget will continue to build capacity in the economy; however, business has been left with a long road to recovery without significant reform to address chronic workforce shortages and languishing productivity.

“While business has been well served by continued investment to skill our local workforce, slash red tape and enhance digital capability for small enterprises, we are without a long-term agenda for Australia to realise its economic potential,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.

“Amid the worst labour and skills shortages in 48 years, and an expected further decline in unemployment to an ultra-low 3.75 per cent, continued investment to skill our local workforce and boost participation will be absolutely crucial to ensuring business can thrive.

“Significant additional funding for a new National Skills Agreement is an important boost and will provide for a valuable increase in the number of training places if this is accepted by state and territory governments.

“With many businesses unable to satisfy the demand for labour, a return to permanent skilled migration to pre-pandemic levels of 160,000 arrivals per year will be insufficient in making up the lost ground over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The reform of employment services through a newly developed Workforce Australia platform should enable jobseekers to better link with available services and employment opportunities.

“A new strategy to allow small business to level-up and enhance their digital capability through the establishment of the Technology Investment Boost will enhance competitiveness and business capacity in an increasingly online world.

“An additional program, the Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System will continue the strengths of the Boosting Apprenticeships Commencement scheme, through targeted, and cost-effective subsidies.  However, in reducing the viability for employers hiring a new apprentice, maintaining momentum beyond June 30 for apprenticeships will be difficult.

“Regrettably, this year’s budget doesn’t address some of the more pressing challenges facing the Australian economy, including a far-reaching agenda for tax reform, stronger focus on innovation, and building business investment, supply chain capability and productivity.  Presumably, these will have to wait until next year.

Jack Quail | Media Adviser

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