Northern jobs and skills takes a front seat in Karratha
Minister for Resources and Minister for Northern Australia Madeleine King MP has met with industry, community members and First Nations groups for a roundtable on jobs and skills in Karratha.
The roundtable explored issues such as talent retention and the education and research capabilities critical to Northern Australia’s economic and social development.
“Karratha is a fantastic example of a small, highly skilled workforce in a regional area making a massive contribution to the national economy,” Minister King said.
“Karratha supports over 13,500 jobs and delivers billions in economic output, with the region’s resources sector significantly contributing to this.
“Discussions from this roundtable will support input to the Albanese Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit, to be held at Parliament House in Canberra on 1–2 September.
“Our goal is to build a bigger, better-trained and more productive workforce, boost incomes and living standards, and create opportunities for more Australians to get ahead and reach their aspirations.”
Minister King has made series of visits to regional centres across the country since being sworn in as part of her commitment to champion the cause of Northern Australia in Federal Cabinet.
“As Minister for Northern Australia, I’m committed to ensuring northern voices are heard and represented, to ensure we drive these outcomes across our north,” Minister King said.
The roundtable brought together representatives from all three levels of government and included First Nations groups such as the Murujuga Aboriginal, Ngarluma Aboriginal and Robe River Kuruma Aboriginal corporations.
Peak body and industry groups were also in attendance, including representatives of the Karratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Pilbara Development Commission, Regional Development Australia Pilbara, Rio Tinto, Woodside Energy, and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia.
Attraction and retention of skilled workers based in the north was a focus, as was the issue of seasonal workforces – particularly for the agricultural, hospitality and tourism sectors.
Challenges facing Northern Australian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was another key discussion area, including business costs and the vast distances between communities.
First Nations businesses, which are typically sole traders or SMEs, additionally face challenges such as limited housing, social infrastructure and connectivity.
“Understanding the challenges they face will be pivotal to driving positive change in our jobs and skills landscape, as well as how best to increase workforce participation for women across the north,” Minister King said.
“This is also an opportunity to explore how seasonal workforces can meet post-pandemic needs, and how training and employment can improve First Nations outcomes.”
The broader Jobs and Skills Summit will bring together Australians, including unions, employers, civil society and governments to address our shared economic challenges.
The summit will inform the Employment White Paper, which will help shape the future of Australia’s labour market. It will be led by the Treasury, which will invite submissions from and engage the wider community over the next 12 months.
For more information on the Government’s Northern Australia investments and initiatives, visit www.infrastructure.gov.au/territories-regions-cities/regional-australia/office-northern-australia.