The Minister for Employment Participation, Brendan O’Connor has urged the human resources industry to broaden its focus and consider new pools of potential labour to increase the number of people in Australia’s workforce.
Speaking at the opening of the Australian Association of Career Counsellors national conference in Hobart, Mr O’Connor said despite 17 years of continued economic growth, there are significant challenges looming to sustain Australia’s economic growth.
"Australia is already experiencing significant shortages of skilled labour while the ageing of our population will impact on our ability as a nation to continue to grow and remain globally competitive," Mr O’Connor said.
"In order to boost the number of people in the workforce, we need to tap into alternative pools of potential workers including young people, mature age Australians, parents seeking to return to work, and people with a disability who have the capacity to work.
"We also need to address the needs of those people who are employed but want to work more hours.
"Australia cannot afford to have potential workers, who can and want to work, excluded from the labour force for economic, social and other reasons."
The conference’s 500 delegates included representatives from small business, educational institutions, government and the corporate sector.
"Career counsellors are an important part of Australia’s training system by helping people make job and study decisions, as well as manage careers and plan career transitions," Mr O’Connor said.
"This national conference will discuss issues that are important to Australia’s future including important early years of education, through to pathways and transitions to careers, and right through to expanding the career landscape for mature age workers."
Mr O’Connor also today presented the 2008 Group Training Australia Partnership Award to Swinburne University’s youth education, training and employment service - First Stop, and Group Training Organisation - AFL SportsReady.
Swinburne University and AFL SportsReady were recognised for establishing an innovative pilot program for Indigenous school-based apprentices working in sport and recreation.