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NORTHERN TERRITORY EMPLOYMENT STRATEGY DISCUSSION STARTER

2012 - 2015
January 2012

A Message from the Minister for Business and Employment ............................................ 3 Employment in the Territory: ................................................................................................ 4 opportunities and challenges ahead .................................................................................... 4 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Workforce planning and development ..................................................................... 5 Skilling the workforce ................................................................................................ 6 Indigenous employment participation ...................................................................... 7 Migration ..................................................................................................................... 8 Business and industry support ................................................................................. 9

Other challenges .................................................................................................................. 10 Where to next? ..................................................................................................................... 10 Your contribution ................................................................................................................. 11

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A Message from the Minister for Business and Employment

The Territory, like other parts of Australia, faces significant challenges in building and sustaining a highly skilled and dynamic workforce to take advantage of economic opportunities. The Territorys Jobs NT Employment Strategy 2010-2012 to grow a skilled workforce set four key targets across skilling the workforce; and workforce planning and business development. I am pleased to report these targets have either been met or considerable progress has been made, with: more than 24 000 Territorians in training more than 3000 Indigenous Territorians commencing employment in the past three years and labour force participation rates that continue to exceed national participation rates.

The Territory Government is now developing the next Employment Strategy to build on this work, with a focus on maximising jobs and supporting businesses to grow through the opportunities presented by a range of major projects. The role of industry and community stakeholders is important in setting the next framework develop a skilled workforce and working alongside Government to implement it. This Discussion Starter seeks to invite innovative new approaches, as well as confirm existing strategies. The key themes identified in this Discussion Starter have been informed through industry committees, including the training Peak Industry Advisory Group and Gearing up Local Business for Major Projects Taskforce, and through consultations with business and industry on the development of the Regional Migration Agreement. I invite you to participate by providing comment through stakeholder consultation starting January 2012.

Delia Lawrie MLA Minister for Business and Employment

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Employment in the Territory:


opportunities and challenges ahead

The Territory has experienced considerable growth in the jobs market with approximately 3000 new jobs created across the Territory over the past two years.1 Unemployment over this time has been at record low levels and consistently lower than other jurisdictions. These factors are expected to continue into the foreseeable future with Deloitte Access Economics predicting the Territory will experience the third strongest economic growth in the nation and strong employment growth rates, on average, over the next five years. A range of major resource projects, both on and off-shore, are set to see the Territory emerge as a resource development and export location, creating more demand for skilled and semiskilled workers and new business opportunities. In the period to 2015-16 it is anticipated in the NT: the demand for workers generally is to increase by 20 000 people2 the demand for construction workers (predominantly trades) will increase by 5500 largely due to major projects3 there is expected to be significant competition for workers nationally due to the numerous major resource projects underway or planned to commence the working age population (aged 15+ years) is projected to grow by approximately 13 000 persons.4

To build on workforce development to date, research suggests that the Territory could focus on the following areas to meet these challenges: sector specific workforce development strategies continued support for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and industry increasing responsiveness of the training system increasing Indigenous participation in the workforce strengthening skilled migration services.

Discussion: Are there other key areas the Territory should focus on and why? Are there other strategies that would provide a better result in growing the workforce? If so, what do you suggest?

1 Labour Force Survey, Australian Bureau of Statistics, November 2011 2 Centre of Policy Studies at Monash University, Monash Employment Forecasts, June 2011 (2010/11-2015/16) 3 The Pit Crew Report, Pit Crew Consulting Services Pty LTD, Northern Territory, May 2011 4 NT Population Projections 2011 (2011-2016) NT Treasury Page | 4

1. Workforce planning and development


Contemporary practice indicates that government has a significant role to play in facilitating industry and business workforce planning and development approaches. To progress workforce planning, government has been working with industry to develop industry specific strategies to build capacity, to identify and support workforce and labour supply issues and assist in developing the workforce to meet labour needs. As a result of upcoming major projects, the government has completed a workforce impact analysis which has directed the focus of industry workforce plans. To date, industry workforce plans have commenced for: transport and logistics construction oil and gas (post construction). Discussion: How best can the NT Government support industry to manage and plan its current and future workforce needs? How can industry ownership for the implementation of workforce action plans be encouraged? What is the best way to engage SMEs in workforce planning and development? What strategies could be used to assist SMEs that have less capacity and fewer resources to undertake workforce development and planning? Are the proposed sectors for future work appropriate or are there other industry sectors government should consider as a priority? If so, what are they and why? What role should NT Government play in supporting the development of regional plans? And how local ownership can be fostered?

There has also been a focus on emerging sectors, such as early childhood and tourism. The workforce strategies for each of the sectors are at various levels of development and implementation. To support SMEs, a workforce planning component has been included in the suite of business support programs offered through Governments Territory Business Solutions Program. Research and consultation with Territory industries has identified the following industry workforces as a priority for action: community services manufacturing vocational education training (VET) workforce.

Research has identified that nationally there is a move towards regional workforce planning. This approach focuses on the significant impact regional communities, and the diverse range of industries and population have on the economy, while recognising the unique challenges regions face.

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2. Skilling the workforce

The Territory Government is committed to developing skills for Territorians and providing training to meet workforce and employer needs. In 2010, VET student numbers were at record levels, with over 24 000 students participating in a broad variety of courses. Currently there are more than 4900 apprentice/trainees in training. The NT Government currently has the following programs/initiatives to support:

Discussion: Are the qualifications being achieved under VETiS, apprentice/traineeships and general entry level training meeting employer needs? Are skill sets more appropriate than qualifications? If so, in which industries? Do apprenticeship programs provide a useful pathway for industry and employers? Would advanced entry adult apprenticeship programs such as the National Apprenticeship Program* meet industry needs? What can be done to increase apprentice/trainee completions? Is it a priority for employers in the NT to require their workers to have higher level qualifications? If so, what level? Is government funding being targeted at the training needed by industry? Should industry have more input into what training the government funds? If so, how?
* www.nationalapprenticeships.com.au

students preparing for the world of work Vocational education training in schools (VETiS) is delivered through the VET in the Middle Program in middle schools and the Get Vet Get A Future program in senior schools. Workplace literacy and numeracy and work transition programs are also delivered in secondary schools. Senior secondary students can commence a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship part-time while undertaking their school studies.

the uptake of apprenticeships and traineeships Employer incentives are available for eligible employers to assist in supporting apprentices and trainees. The Workwear/Workgear Bonus for eligible apprentices/trainees to assist in buying essential work wear, safety gear and other work related necessities. Pre-employment programs to assist people develop skills to enable them to obtain an apprenticeship/traineeship funding for off-the-job training, travel and accommodation subsidies for those who have to travel for off-the-job training.

upskilling/reskilling of existing workers Territorians have access to training through public providers for entry level qualifications and reskilling. Industry can access the Buildskills Program to upskill or reskill existing workers.

disadvantaged groups Equity Training Grants Program provides funding for delivery of training and employment programs for disadvantaged groups to improve their training and employment outcomes. Often this is delivered with foundation and employability skills programs to improve training outcomes.

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3. Indigenous employment participation


Discussion: Indigenous Territorians are working successfully in a wide range of professional and wage jobs, and higher numbers are participating in training that links to employment each year. But there is still more to be done. In 2010, Indigenous labour force participation rates were 43.6% compared to 80% for non-Indigenous Territorians.5 The NT Government has supported a number of activities to increase Indigenous participation in the workforce, they include: The Indigenous Responsive Program, which funds training to develop the skills of Territorians living in remote and regional areas of the NT and increase Indigenous employment opportunities. The NT Government is also working with industry to stimulate Indigenous employment through workforce planning and development strategies. Examples include the pre-employment program with the Minerals Council Australia NT, Indigenous workers in health and community services sectors, shires workforce planning and for the hospitality and early child care sectors. Can the suggested initiatives improve employment outcomes for Indigenous Territorians? What other initiatives would support business to improve employment outcomes for Indigenous Territorians?

While Indigenous engagement in the workforce is increasing, Indigenous workers have not yet achieved proportionally equivalent employment participation rates relative to the wider NT population. Research suggests the following initiatives may support increased engagement of Indigenous people in employment: establishing partnerships with specific industry sectors to develop workforce plans and commitments to jobs more hands-on business support to assist business navigate through available Indigenous employment services and to support business and workers through the early stages of employment in conjunction with employers, develop mobility and labour hire approaches to link Indigenous workers to jobs.

5 Labour Force Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, Estimates from the Labour Force Survey, Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010 Page | 7

4. Migration

An outcome of a strong performing labour market and growth in major projects is skill and labour shortages such as that being experienced in the NT and in some occupations across Australia. The Territory Governments primary focus will continue to be training and upskilling locals. However, this gap cannot be addressed entirely by training locals. In the 2010-11 financial year 1,877 visa nominations and sponsorships were certified. The workforce will need to be supplemented through migration programs both interstate and international. The services provided to employers and business and the activities undertaken by the NT Government in skilled migration are diverse and wide ranging. They include: The development of State Migration Plan, Regional Migration Agreements, Enterprise Migration Agreements, actively engaging with Australian Government to profile NT employers to adequately reflect their needs. The certification of NT nominations under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) and nominations for applicants under state specific migration programs. Workforce attraction and promotion activities both within Australia and overseas for example, UK, Ireland, and South Africa. Promotion activities include targeted media campaigns designed to promote the Territory as a place to work and live. Increasing the number of international students studying at Charles Darwin University. International students are a potential labour supply for business and industry, with studying students able to work 20 hours a week.

Discussion: Do the migration programs/services delivered by the NT Government meet the needs of employers? Are there other programs or services that the NT Government could deliver in this area that would assist business/employers?

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5. Business and industry support


Discussion: Are the current programs supporting business and employers? Is there more government can do to support business and industry to prepare for major projects? If so, what does that support look like?

It is important that the Territory Government facilitates an attractive investment and business environment. Territory businesses and industry are the key to successful employment of Territorians. The Territory Government offer a number of programs/Initiatives that support business and industry growth: Business support programs Territory Business Growth and ecoBiz NT programs provide businesses with assistance to enhance business performance, profitability, employment levels, market penetration and resource-efficient practices that are good for the environment. Workshops October Business Month and Business Upskills events/workshops provide businesses with opportunities for professional development, new business management ideas and practical handson assistance to develop and strengthen their business. Gearing Up Local Business for Major Projects In partnership with industry, monthly specific workshops and seminars were held over 2011, designed to assist Territory businesses to build capability in preparation for upcoming major projects. This covered topics such as joint venturing and consortium tendering, workforce development and understanding the Industry Capability Network. Territory Worker Database A tool that facilitates linkages between NT employers and interstate workers who have expressed an interest in working in the NT. Potential employees can lodge summary information about their skills, qualifications and experience that can be accessed by NT employers.

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Other challenges
Housing The Territory Government recognises the importance of affordable and quality housing in attracting and retaining skilled workers in the Territory. Housing the Territory, Remote Housing NT, Land to Grow, Build Bonus and Home Start NT are NT Government strategies to address housing affordability issues. More information on these initiatives is available at www.housingnt.nt.gov.au Discussion: Are there other challenges impacting on business/industry in growing their business and relevant workforce that government should know about?

Where to next?
The effectiveness of the employment strategy will be determined largely by the extent to which Territory business, industry, unions, community, employers and employees are involved with its development and implementation. Consultation with stakeholders will commence in January 2012. These comments will inform a draft Employment Strategy that will be released for further comment in early 2012.

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Your contribution

Your response to this Discussion Starter will help to build a strategy that can improve employment and business opportunities and outcomes for Territorians. Written and verbal feedback is welcome. Consultation forums will be advertised. To find out more contact Rob Floreani on 8999 7758. To respond in writing via email employment.strategy@nt.gov.au To respond in writing via mail Senior Project Officer, Employment and Training Division Department of Business and Employment GPO Box 3200 DARWIN NT 0801 Written responses are due by: COB Friday 24 February 2012.

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Disclaimer: any representation, statement, opinion or advice, expressed or implied, in this publication is made in good faith. It is made on the basis that the Department of Business and Employment Northern Territory is not liable (whether by reason of negligence, lack of care or otherwise) to any person to any damage or loss whatsoever, which has occurred or may occur in relation to that person taking action in respect of any representation, statement.
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