Ai Group’s Queensland Head, Rebecca Andrews, welcomed the Queensland Budget’s focus on skills, training and jobs.
Ms Andrews said, “The priority the Government is giving to skills development and education is particularly welcome. The number one issue for Queensland Business is being able to recruit and retain workers including those with the right skillsets. The ongoing investment in the Skilling Queenslanders for Work and Back to Work programs, together with the investment in free TAFE and free apprenticeships, will help improve opportunities for Queenslanders to take part in the COVID-19 economic recovery and, over time, lift productivity and living standards.
“The New Small Business Strategy will help small business find people with the right skills and the particular emphasis on digital skills is timely and forward-looking. The Strategy plans for a Workforce Summit later this year to address the states growing labour challenges. Ai Group looks forward to contributing to the Summit on behalf of members.
“The State Government’s commitment to increasing the state’s manufacturing capability is welcome and the clean energy fund will add momentum to the development of the state’s renewable energy generation, hydrogen production and green manufacturing industries.
“The $52.2 billion infrastructure spend over the next four years is needed and will help accommodate Queensland’s growing population. To avoid cost blow-outs, infrastructure projects must be accompanied with procurement policies that ensure value-for-money for the taxpayer. These policies must enable the full and fair participation of competitive, locally based suppliers.
“Ai Group also supports the Budget’s emphasis on social spending. A particularly promising area of investment is in social housing. Investing in these shovel-ready projects can stimulate local economies, create jobs, and help those low-income earners most affected by the pandemic.
“There are obvious problems in the public health system and the additional spending on health infrastructure is needed. A healthy economy requires a healthy population. On this front, the ongoing vaccine roll out and the course of the COVID-19 pandemic will be key drivers of the Queensland economy over the period ahead. With regions such as Cairns and the Gold Coast heavily impacted by international borders closures, the Queensland Government should work with its federal counterpart to produce a roadmap to reopening our international borders based on risk mitigation and the vaccine roll out.
“While the deficit this year will be significant, the improvement in the budget bottom line is driven by an improving economy. The longer-term budget strategy of returning the Budget to a position of fiscal sustainability built on the growth of the economy, higher levels of employment and a more skilled and productive workforce is commendable.” Ms Andrews said.