Last night you may (or may not) have watched the federal budget announcements with a focus on unemployment rates currently being at 4%, with an aim to lower it to around 3.75% which will heighten labour and skills shortages across the country.
The first section of this blog outlines the headline announcements and read on for more industry and workforce specific measures.
For floods and natural disasters $6 billion is allocated for disaster recovery and defence gets $38 billion for their workforce and home care services for veterans, wellbeing and mental health.
Aspiration and enterprise being encouraged and rewarded was the focus with essential services investment to address inflation and jobs, starting with a cost-of-living package where fuel excise will be halved for 6 months and greater, cheaper access to medicines.
Road funding for $12 billion in the coming year and there was a theme of self-reliance for Australia especially in manufacturing and vulnerabilities in supply chains. Victoria to manufacture mRNA vaccines; driving collaboration with Universities, CSIRO and industry to commercialise in clean energy; medical supplies and defence; new patent arrangement for agriculture and low emissions sectors.
A new one-off $420 tax offset for low- and middle-income earners; up to $1500 for individuals and $3000 for couples; $250 one off cost of living payment to 6 million Australians including pensioners, carers, Veterans, concession card holders, self-funded retirees, and job seekers.
For young Australians – $13 billion in skills and training; $2.8 billion to increase the take up and completion of apprenticeships $5000 to apprentices; $15 000 wage subsidies; $3.7 billion investment in 800 000 training places.
Small and family businesses who are employing 8 million Australians saw an investment in skills and new tech; for every $100 an SMB spends they will get a $120 tax deduction; plus, support to realise a digital revolution with every $100 spent on digital economy technology they will get $120 tax deduction.
A $7.1 billion Regional investment package for agriculture; infrastructure and energy projects; water projects; regional accelerator of $2 billion; $1.3 billion for telecommunications; and health.
New and expanded services for employment – Skilling Australians – training places for doctors at regional Universities; and broader access to childcare to support workforce participation.
Investment in road and rail projects; local council projects; connections with ports, airports and transportation hubs; solar, clean hydrogen, micro grids, renewable energy – in solar and wind. Funding for schools, hospitals, aged care, mental health, women, disability services, and a prevention of domestic violence against women and children of $1.3 billion.
On employment, whilst female workforce participation is higher, and unemployment lower there is latent workforce potential, and it was good to see paid parental leave eligibility expanded to 20 weeks of leave and options in terms of how it is shared between partners.
Disability support via the NDIS for 500 000 Australians, aged care support and embedding pharmacy services in facilities but where will we get the people to do this and everything else announced?
Home ownership was expanded to 50 000 places with 5% deposit and $2 billion re affordable housing – but that is just a drop in the ocean.
$180 billion in education funding for preschools, schools, 30 000+ places at universities in 2021 (so already announced and known); new regional scholarships; and new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student boarding program.
$636 million to expand Indigenous Rangers Program; investment in the Barrier Reef; Antarctica; and for threatened species.
Reducing waste via recycling, Recycling Modernisation Fund and ‘ReMade in Australia’, with 10 000 jobs but how?
$9.9 billion in Australian cyber security capabilities with 1900 jobs which seemed like it was for government, but this needs clarification.
Industry and Workforce Specific Measures
There are changes To Visa Rules – supplementing Australia’s workforce during the recovery. (pg. 11)
On relocating workers to regions, “$6.6 million over 2 years from 2021 22 to expand the AgMove program and extend it to 31 December 2022 to support more eligible job seekers who relocate to take up short term agricultural work, including harvest work in Australia.” (pg. 50)
A Humanitarian Program 2022 23 and Update on Afghan Arrivals – “$9.2 million in 2022 23 to extend existing Youth Transition Support services for 12 months to 30 June 2023, to continue the provision of services to young humanitarian entrants and vulnerable migrants to increase engagement in education and community sport and assist in transition to employment.” (pg. 117)
On international there is more support for the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with India and for Tourism Support – “$6.8 million over 3 years from 2021 22 for increased data availability and analysis to improve planning in the tourism sector and to establish an employment platform to promote career opportunities in the sector.” (pg. 84)
For women, “$10.3 million over 4 years from 2022 23 to promote leadership, safety and employment opportunities for women in sport, through talent and training programs, leadership and governance workshops, and increased mentoring for female coaches at the local, national and international sporting levels.
$9.4 million over 5 years from 2021 22 to bring women into board positions and fund the Future Women’s Jobs Academy.
$9.0 million over 3 years from 2023 24 to provide continued support to the Future Female Entrepreneurs program, also known as the Academy for Enterprising Girls.
$4.7 million over 5 years from 2022 23 to improve women’s participation and encourage women to consider a career in Australian manufacturing.
$1.4 million over 3 years from 2022 23 to UNICEF Australia and Parents at Work to expand the Family Friendly Workplaces initiative to a further 500 workplaces across Australia.” (pg. 65)
Tech and Digital Economy Strategy
“REDSPICE will offer significant opportunities for Australian industry and support new employment pathways through partnerships with educational institutions, particularly in the areas of data science and analysis, artificial intelligence, cyber security and ICT engineering.” (pg. 72)
“$3.9 million over 2 years from 2022 23 to support women to pursue career opportunities in Australia’s growing tech workforce.” (pg. 158)
Boosting Participation and Building Australia’s Workforce
The Government will provide $153.5 million over 5 years from 2021 22 to address workforce shortages, support job seekers to find employment, and make it easier for vulnerable Australians to participate in the workforce. Funding includes:
“$52.8 million over 5 years from 2021 22 to deliver the new ReBoot initiative and support Workforce Australia to support up to 5,000 disadvantaged young Australians to develop employability skills, providing a pathway to employment services and training opportunities
$49.5 million over 2 years from 2022 23 to provide an additional 15,000 low and fee free training places in aged care courses under the JobTrainer Fund
$44.6 million over 2 years from 2022 23 to continue support for businesses who employ mature aged Disability Employment Services program participants through the Restart Wage Subsidy
$3.2 million in 2022 23 to extend the Time to Work Employment Services program for 12 months to provide continued in person pre-employment services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners
$1.9 million over 5 years from 2021 22 to extend the pension suspension period and Pensioner Concession Card access period to 2 years for pensioners that receive a nil payment due to their partner’s employment income or working hours, where this has also resulted in the suspension of their partner’s pension for up to 2 years
$1.5 million in 2022 23 to extend the trial of career coaching for job seekers of all ages participating in Digital Services under Workforce Australia. The trial will provide career coaching to digitally serviced job seekers, to help them secure employment
Expanding eligibility for the Local Recovery Fund to include job seekers self-managing through Digital Services under Workforce Australia from 1 July 2022.” (pg. 74-75)
Investing in Australia’s University Research Commercialisation
“The Government will provide $988.2 million over 5 years from 2021 22 (and around $325.1 million per year ongoing) to deliver an ambitious research reform package that will drive university industry collaboration, workforce mobility and research translation and commercialisation. Funding includes:
- $505.2 million over 5 years from 2021 22 (and around $182.3 million per year ongoing) to establish Australia’s Economic Accelerator (AEA) grants to support university research projects from proof of concept and proof of scale through to commercialisation. Funded projects will align with the National Manufacturing Priorities and will be done in partnership with industry
- $295.2 million over 5 years from 2021 22 (and around $142.8 million per year ongoing) to establish new research training pathways for students and researchers, creating new opportunities to work with industry through new Industry PhDs and Fellowships, and deliver reforms to the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Program from 2026 27
- $150.0 million in equity funding over 5 years from 2021 22 to expand the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Innovation Fund (Main Sequence Ventures). The venture capital investment will progress AEA projects with high commercialisation potential to reach at scale test and prototype stages
- $37.4 million over 4 years from 2022 23 to establish CSIRO’s Research Translation Start program to take research from the lab into the market by building the entrepreneurial capacity of the research workforce with a focus on the National Manufacturing Priorities.” (pg. 75-76)
Investing in Skills Development and Growing Australia’s Workforce
“The Government will provide $1.3 billion over 5 years from 2021 22 to support employers to engage and retain new apprentices and reform the Australian Apprenticeships system to sustain a skilled and responsive workforce. This funding includes:
- $954.0 million over 5 years from 2021 22 to introduce a new Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System from 1 July 2022, providing support to employers and apprentices in priority occupations
- $365.3 million to extend the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements and Completing Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidies by 3 months to 30 June 2022, to further support employers taking on and retaining new apprentices
- $2.8 million in 2022 23 to increase apprenticeship In Training Support by an additional 2,500 places for young Australians aged 15 20 years.” (pg. 76-77)
School Education Support
“The Government will provide $228.5 million over 5 years from 2021 22 (and $1.3 million per year ongoing) to implement recommendations from the Next Steps: Report of the Quality Initial Teacher Education Review to attract suitable people to teaching and increase the quality of their preparation and introduction to the profession, and for initiatives to improve education outcomes for students, particularly in regional and remote areas.” (pg. 77)
Skills Reform to Support Future Growth
“The Government will provide $3.7 billion over 6 years from 2021 22 (and $284.6 million per year ongoing) to increase investment in Australia’s skills development, address critical skills needs and meet the demands of a growing economy. Funding includes:
- $3.7 billion over 5 years from 2022 23 (and $284.6 million per year ongoing from 2027 28) to work with states and territories, to agree a new National Skills Agreement under the Heads of Agreement for Skills Reform to invest in the skills system to support economic growth and resilience
- $28.5 million over 5 years from 2021 22 to establish assurance functions to support the Vocational Education and Training system for the Australian Skills Quality Authority.” (pg. 78)
“$18.6 million over 3 years from 2022 23 to establish a pilot program to provide unique digital and data training and employment opportunities for regional Australians.” pg. 152
“$15.2 million over 7 years from 2022 23 to pilot Australian Public Service (APS) Hubs across regional Australia that will provide office accommodation for APS staff to work from regional areas and promote the APS as an employment option to regional Australians.” (pg. 153)
Regional Accelerator Program – establishment
“The Government will provide $2.0 billion over 5 years from 2022 23 to establish the Regional Accelerator Program (RAP) to drive transformative economic growth and productivity in regional areas. The RAP will provide dedicated funding for regional businesses and communities to access programs targeted to local priorities in infrastructure, manufacturing and industry development, skills and training, research and development, and education.
Programs receiving the regional extension funding include (but are not limited to) the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, Australian Apprenticeships initiatives, Critical Minerals Accelerator Initiative, Export Market Development Grants, Recycling Modernisation Fund and Defence Industry programs.
The program will take a whole of government approach to drive regional investment, targeted at regions experiencing high levels of population growth and economic performance or undergoing long term structural adjustment.” (pg. 150)
Support for People with Disability
“$6.1 million over 2 years from 2022 23 for a full-scale national advertising program to promote the Field (formerly known as WorkAble) to assist job seekers with disability to find and engage with employment opportunities.” (pg. 168)
Aged Care Support has Pillar 4 dedicated to workforce development strategies. (pg. 87)
Prioritising Mental Health
“$9.7 million over 3 years from 2022 23 for nationally consistent mechanisms to better manage mental health and wellbeing concerns in schools, including a national measure of student wellbeing, national guidelines for the accreditation of mental health and wellbeing programs and trauma informed professional development support for teachers.”
$3.3 million over 2 years from 2021 22 to fund the delivery of best practice early intervention and prevention mentoring programs for ‘at risk’ Year 8 students at public secondary schools.
$93.2 million over 5 years from 2021 22 for workforce and governance issues. Funding includes:
$64.7 million over 5 years from 2021 22 to implement the first stages of the 10-year mental health workforce strategy, including:
$28.6 million over 3 years from 2023 24 to increase the size of the psychiatry workforce through training posts, funding for supervisors, specific rural and remote initiatives and recruitment
$18.3 million over 3 years from 2022 23 for a national mental health ‘pathways to practice’ program for nursing, allied health and psychology students
$6.2 million over 3 years from 2021 22 to support the mental health of health workers
$4.7 million over 3 years from 2022 23 to provide general practitioners with access to psychiatrist support for treating their patients
$1.3 million over 2 years from 2023 24 to build the capacity of mental health workers to respond to people with both substance use and mental health conditions
$0.4 million over 2 years from 2022 23 to deliver a stigma reduction program for secondary and tertiary students to encourage students to choose a career in mental health.
$4.2 million over 5 years from 2021 22 to support employment of general practitioners in headspace centres in rural and remote regions.” (pg. 110-111)
Scholarships for Our Medical Workforce
“The Government will provide $14.9 million over 2 years from 2022 23 to provide additional scholarships for the medical workforce. Funding includes:
- $13.9 million over 2 years from 2022 23 to continue and expand the number of health scholarships offered under the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme by up to 150 additional places a year
- $1.0 million in 2022 23 to provide a matching co contribution to the Australian College for Nursing for 21 new scholarships for nurses seeking to develop their leadership skills.” (pg. 112)
Small Medium Enterprises
Small Business – skills and training boost
“The Government is introducing a skills and training boost to support small businesses to train and upskill their employees. The boost will apply to eligible expenditure incurred from 7:30pm (AEDT) on 29 March 2022 (Budget night) until 30 June 2024.
Small businesses (with aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million) will be able to deduct an additional 20 per cent of expenditure incurred on external training courses provided to their employees. The external training courses will need to be provided to employees in Australia or online and delivered by entities registered in Australia.
Some exclusions will apply, such as for in house or on the job training and expenditure on external training courses for persons other than employees.
The boost for eligible expenditure incurred by 30 June 2022 will be claimed in tax returns for the following income year. The boost for eligible expenditure incurred between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2024, will be included in the income year in which the expenditure is incurred.” (pg. 26-27)
Small Business – technology investment boost
The Government is introducing a technology investment boost to support digital adoption by small businesses. The boost will apply to eligible expenditure incurred from 7:30pm (AEDT) on 29 March 2022 (Budget night) until 30 June 2023.
Small businesses (with aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million) will be able to deduct an additional 20 per cent of the cost incurred on business expenses and depreciating assets that support their digital adoption, such as portable payment devices, cyber security systems or subscriptions to cloud based services.
An annual cap will apply in each qualifying income year so that expenditure up to $100,000 will be eligible for the boost.
The boost for eligible expenditure incurred by 30 June 2022 will be claimed in tax returns for the following income year. The boost for eligible expenditure incurred between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 will be included in the income year in which the expenditure is incurred.
This measure is estimated to decrease receipts by $1.0 billion and increase payments by $7.2 million over the forward estimates period. (pg. 27)
Small Business Support Package
The Government will provide $25.2 million over 3 years from 2021 22 to deliver initiatives to support small businesses. Funding includes:
- “$10.4 million over 2 years from 2022 23 to enhance and redesign the Payment Times Reporting Portal and Register to improve efficiency and reporting
- $8.0 million in 2022 23 to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman to work with service providers to enhance small business financial capability
- $4.6 million over 2 years from 2021 22 to support the New Access for Small Business Owners program delivered by Beyond Blue to continue to provide free, accessible, and tailored mental health support to small business owners
- $2.1 million over 2 years from 2021 22 to extend the Small Business Debt Helpline program operated by Financial Counselling Australia to continue to provide financial counselling to small businesses facing financial issues.” (pg. 173)
Local Roads and Community Infrastructure – Phase 3 extension
The funding will allow councils to further engage local businesses and workforces to deliver priority projects and support economic recovery. (pg. 144)
Australian Future Leaders Program
The Government will provide $18.0 million over 5 years from 2021 22 and $4.0 million per year ongoing to establish the Australian Future Leaders Program. The program will develop mid-career leaders and create an alumni network for future leaders in government, business, education institutions and non-profits across Australia. (pg. 155)
Startup, Scaleup, Entrepreneur and Innovation?
And then you go free searching for key words and phrases in the budget like “startup” = no results; “scaleup” = no results; “entrepreneur” = 2 results; “innovation” = many more results related to patent box, Australia UK Free Trade Agreement, forestry industry, and Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
However, there are many opportunities to address workforce issues and gaps, hopefully where innovative approaches will be prioritised, delivered in very practical ways, and not only in more consultancies or reports that capture what you already know.
What do you think of Budget 2022-23?
Budget Measures, Budget Paper No. 2, 2022–23, Circulated by The Honourable Josh Frydenberg MP, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia and Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia
For the information of honourable members on the occasion of the Budget 2022 23, 29 March 2022.