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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3491 ..

information, so it is not exactly clear what the Business Chamber is asking for. But what the government is working on is a framework looking at addressing skill shortages, but it is linked with education and training provision. It is linked to work that is occurring at a national level through national cabinet around a national skills reform agreement. It is also linked to the work of the National Skills Commission, and it is heavily impacted, obviously, by national population policy and migration policy settings, including skilled migration policy settings.

In summary, what the ACT government will look at is capability within our education system and our skilled migration settings, capacity issues around the ability to attract and retain workers within our economy, and it will undertake research into reasons why skill shortages exist in Australia and in the territory; then there is an element of marketing and facilitation that goes to promoting Canberra as a place for people to live, work and study, over other destinations in Australia. All of that combined is work across multiple portfolios, and it is being coordinated through my office as Chief Minister. (Time expired.)

MR DAVIS: Chief Minister, what role does the ACT Workforce Attraction Cooperative Grants Program play in the development of a long-term workforce capacity strategy?

MR BARR: It has a role to play, but it is important to have an understanding of what is meant by “long term” in the context of an evolving labour market. We can make some very clear observations about long-term labour market trends. There is going to continue to be a shift in the Australian economy towards higher skilled jobs. That is clear. Health, education and professional services will continue to dominate jobs growth in our region and in our nation. Occupations that were performing well before COVID-19 are likely to continue to perform well.

The structure of the labour market could well change, though. The very nature of the pandemic means that there is uncertainty and volatility in short, medium and long-term data. It means that forecasts, data and modelling, of course, need to co-exist with the lived reality and actual judgements year to year in relation to, for example, skills that would be on a priority skills list, a skilled migration program, and the nature of the education and training provision that may or may not be possible in our city, our region and our nation.

Ultimately, in terms of private sector jobs, the key thing, particularly in our economy, where 99 per cent of businesses are of a small or medium size, will be the employer-employee relationship. That is about wages and salaries, and conditions—that, and the firms themselves providing specific training for their own employees in the specific needs of that business. That is a key factor here. The government alone is not the solution to this problem. We do live in an open-market economy. (Time expired.)

MS CLAY: Minister, are we placing a gendered lens on these policies and programs to help women in the private sector?

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