Boosting migration has been flagged as “part of the solution” to severe labour and skills shortages by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Mr Albanese also wants domestic workers trained for the “jobs of the future”.
“The skills have changed, so we need to change that training to match the skills,” he told reporters on Monday ahead of the jobs and skills summit next month.
Mr Albanese outlined the 10 professions with the most dire worker shortages, including nurses, chefs, early childhood teachers and electricians.
Construction workers and civil engineers also made the list, as did other caring professions, such as child care workers and aged and disability carers.
Technology will also continue to be a major employer over the next five years, according to government forecasts, with IT business and systems analysts and software programmers rounding out the top 10 list.
To help plug these skills gaps, the government plans to send more than 450,000 people to TAFE free of charge.
Supporting apprentices will also be on the agenda at the jobs and skills summit.
Apprenticeship Employment Network boss Gary Workman said there was a disconnect between labour shortages in trades and high numbers of new apprenticeship starts.
“The treasurer is looking for more efficient ways to do things,” Mr Workman said.
“The obvious place to start would be by ensuring employers are only subsidised for genuine new apprenticeships.”
Workers affected by the clean energy transition will also be on the agenda at the jobs and skills summit.
On Monday, the Australian Council of Trade Unions called for a new national body tasked with overseeing the transition so workers in fossil fuel industries are not left behind.
“A national Energy Transition Authority will ensure that we don’t have to choose between climate action and good, secure jobs,” ACTU president Michele O’Neil said.
The ACTU has also supported a boost to migration to plug skill gaps on the condition domestic workers are first offered improved wages and other benefits.
Commenting on the proposal, Nationals leader David Littleproud said about 170,000 workers were needed in agricultural processing alone.
He said farmers would be less likely to plant crops if they couldn’t find workers, which would limit supply and drive up costs for consumers.
“Every time you go to the checkout, you should see Anthony Albanese’s face on your docket because he’s driving up the cost of your living,” he said.
Mr Littleproud called for improved avenues to bring migrant workers into regions permanently as a solution to labour shortages in agriculture and in regional communities.
He also wants more investment in vocational training in the regions, as well as allowing pensioners and veterans to do more work without losing payments.
Mr Albanese said the government supported the notion of allowing pensioners to do more paid work without losing benefits, and would consider this policy as part of its response to the labour crisis.
The jobs and skills summit will be held in Canberra on September 1 and 2.
(Australian Associated Press)