November 2022

2022/23 Federal Budget recap and what it means for your business

Last weeks release of the 2022/23 Federal budget outlined some promising initiatives that will directly benefit businesses and industries in regional Australia.

There were many positives to come out of it, such as a large allocation of spend towards NDIS and aged care, improvements around childcare, housing, parental leave, and wage growth, along with some other important initiatives that will deal with some of the drivers of our current economic inflation. However, some businesses and industries were left disappointed, but perhaps unsurprised, that no major changes to tax policy had been considered.

Many businesses and industries did welcome the announcement that the Federal Budget will be tackling the skills shortage by implementing several new measures:

  • Committing to a $1 billion one-year National Skills Agreement with all states and territories to deliver 480,000 free TAFE and community-based vocational education places.
  • Investing $485.5 million to provide up to 20,000 additional university places, with a focus on skills-short industries such as engineering, technology, health, and education.
  • Guaranteeing a pipeline of skilled workers with the Australia Skills Guarantee, which will ensure that one in ten workers on major federally funded projects is an apprentice or trainee.
  • Establishing a $50 million TAFE Technology Fund to help modernise TAFE and training facilities and workshops.
  • Increase the permanent Migration Planning level to 195,000 places, focusing on skilled migrants and targeted to regional areas.
  • Provide additional funding to accelerate the processing of visa applications, as well as extending the relaxing of work restrictions for student visa holders until mid-2023.
  • Committing over $100 million to the New Energy Apprenticeships and New Energy Skills programs as well as providing up to $10,000 incentive for each apprentice in a clean energy role.

Along with a clear focus on improving the skills shortage, there was also announced several initiatives to boost priority industries to grow the industrial base and support regional development:

  • Establish the National Reconstruction Fund, which will invest $15 billion over 7 years across seven priority areas: resources, agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, transport, medical science, renewable & low emission technologies and defense capabilities and enabling capabilities.
  • Renew the role of Infrastructure Australia to review the infrastructure pipeline of $120 billion in transport infrastructure over 10 years.
  • Committing to $1.2 billion to help farmers increase annual output to $100 billion by 2030.
  • Invest $1.2 billion into water infrastructure via the National Water Grid Fund to increase irrigatable land by around 145,000ha.
  • Invest in regional development across Australia, with a commitment of $7.4 billion.
  • Supporting the construction industry with 20,000 affordable homes to be delivered under the new national Housing Accord.

JK Personnel’s Managing Director, Tim Walshe, shares his expert opinion on what some of these initiatives and budget measures will mean for business and industries in regional Australia:

“We are excited by the varied and layered approach to the skills shortage in the Federal Budget, given our long-standing regional focus we understand that overcoming a skill gap is never achieved by a “silver bullet” approach. It takes a variety of solutions to move the needle on what is always a complex problem.

The budget addresses ‘building what we cannot find’, via a significant increase in places available in TAFE and University, targeting the industries that need it most. Supported by strategies that will increase the appeal and attraction of these career pathways, via increased funded training and quotas that will see more new entrants into these fields provided the chance to work on some of the largest projects in Australia.

This talent development strategy is supported by much needed focus on increasing speed and availability of migrant workers entering the Australian employment market, for most in regional Australia the bucket has felt empty for a number of years, this should provide some more immediate relief while the slower building of local talent impacts over coming years.

My final thought, I will watch with interest the infrastructure planning and spend, recent history has seen the bulk of this money spent on metropolitan based projects. I hope a more balanced distribution will see more spending in regional cities around Australia, we know the significant impact these projects have on the economies that surround them.

Would we have liked more, sure, but I think we can find heart in the fact that it seems the feds are at least aware of the challenges businesses in regional Australia are facing around skills, with a considered effort to address them.”

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