Reimagine Gold Coast

Gold Coast

Good morning.

Thank you for inviting me, be it virtually, today.

And thank you to the City Heart Taskforce for organising today’s event.

In the current economic climate, bringing together industry leaders to plan for the future, and develop innovative approaches to both challenges and opportunities that regions face, has never been more important. 

It is fitting that the theme of today is, ‘reimagine Gold Coast’.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented situation regionally, nationally, and globally.

As we try to rebuild the economy, planning for what our future workforce will look like, and, importantly, ensuring we have the skills we are going to need, is essential.

We really do need to ‘reimagine’ how our workforce will look and develop targeted skills outcomes for the future.

The jobs created as we recover from the crisis are not likely to be the same jobs that existed before.

Many job seekers will need to reskill or upskill to secure work.

The Gold Coast has been among the regions hardest hit by COVID-19, with employment falling by 11,000 (or 3.4 per cent) between March and June and the unemployment rate rising from 4.1 per cent to 7.9 per cent over the period.

The negative impact of COVID-19 on the Gold Coast is not entirely surprising, given around 11 per cent (10.5 per cent) of employment in the region is accounted for by the Accommodation and Food Services sector, one of the industries that has been most heavily affected by COVID-19.

So what does this mean for the future?

Jobs of the future

The workforce has changed dramatically over the past 50 years, with COVID-19 amplifying this change exponentially.

As the Gold Coast is experiencing first-hand, COVID-19 is having a massive impact on domestic economic growth and labour market activity in Australia. Unfortunately, this fallout will continue for some time.

We must protect the health of Australians, while keeping Australians in jobs, keeping businesses viable, and supporting households and the Australian economy.

The Health Care and Social Assistance industry is currently the largest employment sector on the Gold Coast. 

This industry spans job across hospitals, GPs, and aged and child care.

As we’ve witnessed during the pandemic, this sector is critical to our nation, and will only continue to grow and become more important.

To help meet demand, we’re continuing to rapidly roll out more qualifications in the aged and disability sectors.

A new, national skill set has been developed that will enable new workers to be rapidly deployed with the essential entry-level skills they need to help boost the ranks of the care and support sectors.

The Government is committed to supporting Australians faced with changes in the labour market, to stay in work.

A skilled workforce for the future

Skills reform is central to the Government’s JobMaker plan to support Australia’s economic recovery and future growth.

The Government is investing $2 billion to give hundreds of thousands of Australians access to retraining and upskilling in sectors with job opportunities, as the economy recovers from COVID-19.

It includes the $1 billion JobTrainer Fund, jointly funded with the states and territories, to provide around an additional 340,700 training places to help school leavers and job seekers gain access to short and long courses.  

We need Australians better trained for the jobs business needs and to do that we need real reform when it comes to skills training in Australia.

Key to this is developing targeted data and up-to-date information about current and future labour market trends.

Our newly established National Skills Commission (NSC) will generate expert insights into current and future skills needs.

It will provide detailed labour market analysis, including an annual report each year setting out the skill needs of Australia, and publish close to real-time data on labour markets to flag emerging skills shortages and other labour market trends.

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister said:

“The extent of the damage wrought by COVID-19 on the Australian economy, and the enormity of the challenge we now face to get Australians back into jobs, means the policy priorities for recovery will be different to those in place before this crisis.”

The Gold Coast has been heavily hit by the pandemic.

There is no playbook for how to successfully navigate a health and economic crisis of the magnitude caused by COVID-19.

We do know though that we will need to reimagine our workforce.

We will need to reignite our economy.

We will need targeted outcomes based on comprehensive data on what the jobs of the future will be and the skills needed for them.

This can only be achieved by industry leaders and governments working together, through forums like today’s think tank.

Thank you for your time.