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Author: Jody Falzdeen


Unpacking what the Budget means for your talent acquisition

A week ago, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the 2021 – 2022 Budget for Australia with a goal of ‘securing Australia’s recovery’. Political views aside, the dust has now had time to settle on what is being referred to as a ‘big-spending budget’, with a clear focus on job creation and security to support Australia’s economic recovery.

Making childcare more affordable, increasing funding for women in Leadership and STEM qualifications, migration tax cuts and increasing the skills of jobseekers and young people were among the initiatives listed to support jobs growth.

We’ve unpacked the key Budget highlights that will help shape the face of recruitment and talent acquisition for Australian businesses in the years to come.

Taking the talent search global

Perhaps most excitingly in the world of talent acquisition – the Government is introducing visa and tax changes for businesses and individuals to encourage more highly skilled individuals to relocate to Australia. Under the Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce, this will take the form of a new Global Talent visa and Temporary Activity visa, along with modernising the framework for individual tax residency.

These steps will help attract the best and brightest overseas talent from around the world to Australian shores with a more streamlined and accelerated visa pathway. There are two visa options – the first being “for businesses or exceptional individuals” who may qualify for the Global Talent visa permanent residency for the candidate and their immediate family. The second visa is for businesses needing post-COVID economic recovery to relocate key staff to Australia from overseas, supported through the Temporary Activity visa.

More on the Global Talent visa

Specifically offered to highly skilled professionals who hold desired future-focused skills, the visa allows holders to live and work permanently in Australia. The Global Talent visa program is targeted to the growth of our technology and innovation sectors, supporting candidates in Resources, Energy, Health Industries, DigiTech, Infrastructure and Tourism, Financial Services and FinTech and Education to name a few.

The program aims to see the visa process made quicker and easier for both employers and candidates. This means that your candidate can start their new role sooner with minimised stress throughout the process, and that Australian businesses are enabled more convenient access to a global talent pool. The eligibility requirements for the existing Global Talent Visa Program can be found here.

Increased funding and support for women in the workplace

Women were heavily affected by job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, with female employment falling by around 12%, meanwhile male employment went down 4%. Women were also more likely than men to face reduced working hours, along with bearing the brunt of school and childcare closures. This, coupled with the already uneven footing experienced by women due to the Australian gender pay gap of 14% and the additional 59 days that women would have to work to earn equal to their male counterparts, meant that women were left at an increased disadvantage.

The Budget focuses on two key aspects to support women’s workforce participation – the low representation of women in leadership positions, and in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Government has pledged $42.2 million over seven years to support more than 230 women to pursue higher level STEM qualifications, along with $38.3 million over five years to expand the Women’s Leadership and Development Program. In a recent media release, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said,

“Women in visible positions of leadership is vital in bringing about cultural change, ensuring respect for women in the workplace and providing role models.”

The Women’s Leadership and Development Program functions primarily in the form of project grants in six key focus areas: women’s job creation, women’s economic security, women’s workforce participation, women’s safety, and international engagement. To be eligible, you must be either an Indigenous Corporation, Company, Cooperative, Incorporated Association, Sole Trader, Statutory Entity or Partnership, and you must meet the eligible grant activities criteria.

Training and upskilling young people and jobseekers

Top of the agenda for our COVID-19 recovery is an investment in skills support. The Government is investing $6.4 billion to more apprenticeships, successive reforms and investments in skills, and providing a further investment in free or low-fee training places.

The Job Trainer fund will see a $500 million extension, providing targeted support training for school leavers, youth and unemployed Australians between 17-24. There will be an additional 163,000 places in vocational education and training until the end of 2022. The fund will focus on training in digital skills and upskilling in critical industries such as aged care.

For eligible job seekers, including youth, single parents, and the long term unemployed, there will be wage subsidies, along with a number of additional foundational skills and career advice support. The primary business initiatives are through programs such as jobactive, Transition to Work and ParentsNext, where the Government is increasing wage subsidies to $10,000 inclusive of GST.

Childcare affordability

A hot topic from the Budget over the past week has been the changes to the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) to make it more affordable. With an extra $1.7 billion pledged, there will be an increase in the subsidy rate and changes to the existing cap. According to Budget papers,

"The Child Care Subsidy will be increased by 30 percentage points for the second or subsequent child, up to a cap of 95%. This will ease cost of living pressures for over 250,000 Australian families and address the higher out-of-pocket costs faced by families with multiple young children. The removal of the Child Care Subsidy annual cap will also reduce barriers to working. With these changes, families are not penalised by hitting the cap."

It's hoped that the increase in affordability will spur greater levels of workforce participation among parents. In traditional gender stereotypes, at home care for children often falls on women, and it’s hoped that this measure will contribute to reducing the disincentives of female workforce participation that high out of pocket childcare costs can represent.

Workforce planning in 2021-22

As we head into our own 2021-22 workforce planning, budgeting and strategy days at Talentpath, the Federal budget release is timely. For many businesses, leveraging government funding and targeted initiatives will make all the difference when it comes to talent acquisition for diversity and inclusion, equality, and ultimately, stronger business outcomes.

We’re optimistic when it comes to what the future has in store for Australia’s job creation and stability. As to whether the increased investment in training and upskilling, streamlined visas to encourage the migration of highly-skilled candidates, and increased childcare support will help address the fast-moving issue of talent shortages in the current market… we’ll have to see!

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