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Govt talks up jobs forum -

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Govt talks up jobs forum

Alexandra Kirk reported this story on Monday, October 3, 2011 08:00:00

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Government is playing down this week's two-day tax forum in Canberra but
talking up the prospects of the jobs forum that follows it.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard announced the jobs forum last month after rejecting union and
caucus demands for a manufacturing inquiry.

The forum will take a detailed look at Australia's labour market, what's driving growth and where
the jobs of the future will be as well as the prospects for manufacturing.

The Employment Minister Chris Evans told Alexandra Kirk while Europe and the US look at Australia's
job figures with envy, there are areas that need attention.

CHRIS EVANS: There is a pretty poor understanding of where Australia's economy will be in 15, 20
years and the jobs that are likely to be created and so I think this will give us an opportunity to
get a better understanding of that and identify the skills and training needs and what
opportunities there will be for businesses.

It is about transition. Some of that transition will be painful for individuals and for industries
but there are really exciting opportunities as well.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Treasurer has made it clear the tax forum won't result in any communiqué or
document. He says it is simply a forum for people and organisations to get up and talk about their
priorities. Will the jobs forum be equally vague?

CHRIS EVANS: No, look I think there are a number of things that will be quite specific as part of
the engagement. I think the patchwork economy and what that means for where jobs are will be an
important issue. We know that there is a movement of jobs from the south to the north. We know
there are industries and regions which will be losing jobs and other industries and regions that
are gaining jobs.

Coming to terms with those issues, helping employers work out where there will be people they can
offer jobs to and where we know we need to do more work to assist people looking for work, they are
going to be important things that I think will be of a very practical nature.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The most acute challenge on jobs is the 1400 Bluescope Steel workers and
contractors facing job cuts at the end of the month. Are you looking to the jobs forum to come up
with something for them?

CHRIS EVANS: No, look that is a very important issue and we've put in place a strategy to work
there and we are doing a lot of work with the company and the unions involved but look, this is
just an example of what's going on more broadly in the economy. We are losing jobs in some sectors
and some industries. There is a whole range of other manufacturing industries, international
education has come off a bit.

So it is a complex picture and what we're trying to do is work through where the new jobs will be
and how we better match people who are coming onto the labour market with those future job
opportunities and also getting a focus on the fact that, you know, many of the jobs in the future
of Australia will be in the services sector. It is not all about mining.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The twin problems are the booming mining sector that is chronically short of
skilled labour and a manufacturing sector that is bleeding jobs. Do you think you can break that
nexus?

CHRIS EVANS: Look, those are two of the very important things going on in the economy and in the
employment space but it is not the only thing. I mean we are predicting still some growth in
manufacturing jobs over the next 15 to 20 years but they'll be different sorts of manufacturing
jobs.

Australia's future is probably at the higher end of manufacturing. The area where there is more use
of technology and higher skills. Many of the jobs in the mining industry are high skill jobs that
are desk jobs, planning and engineering and human resources.

They are jobs where we will need to train more people at tertiary education so it is a much broader
and complex picture than many people, I think realise.

TONY EASTLEY: The Employment Minister Chris Evans, speaking there with Alexandra Kirk.