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Workers should be willing to move for jobs

Date

Patrick Durkin

“Business needs to think about linking incentives to mobility: if you are not willing to move, you don’t get as many dollars.”: Ernst and Young managing partner Rob McLeod.

“Business needs to think about linking incentives to mobility: if you are not willing to move, you don’t get as many dollars.”: Ernst and Young managing partner Rob McLeod. Photo: Tanya Lake

Workers must be willing to move interstate and overseas to where they are needed, according to key members of the Business Council of Australia.

The push is one of a suite of priorities to be outlined by BCA president Catherine Livingstone on Monday in her first major speech.

Ms Livingstone will also release a McKinsey report examining how the economy can transition from dependence on mining to health, agriculture and other areas.

Members of the BCA said the government must invest in infrastructure and housing to make less developed states more attractive to workers.

Companies should also pay incentives to encourage the labour force to move, they say.

“Our fly-in, fly-out concept is very unique to Australia and reflects our cultural mindset that we are just not willing to move for work,” KPMG chairman Peter Nash said. “In the United States you find a much more mobile workforce, and if you want more people to move, you have to build the infrastructure and housing to make it more appealing.”

Ernst & Young managing partner Rob McLeod suggested that bonuses should be linked to whether employees are willing to move. “Business needs to think about linking incentives to mobility: if you are not willing to move, you don’t get as many dollars,” he said.

“You also need to try harder to sell it to workers.”

A report published by the Productivity Commission last month recommends the government abolish stamp duty to increase the supply of housing and help alleviate unemployment, which has risen from 5.7 per cent to 6 per cent over the last year.

KPMG’s Mr Nash said innovation and technology could help alleviate the lack of workforce mobility.

“You don’t have to fly a driver from Sydney to Perth if you have a driverless truck,” he said, citing the use of drones to monitor crops as another example.

“It is much more efficient then doing it on the back of a motorcycle. But you wouldn’t want to blink or China will go past us.”

Science, technology, engineering, maths

Ms Livingstone will also highlight education, both to attract more international students and to encourage more local students to study science, technology, engineering and maths.

“We have been bemoaning the poor state of stem skills in schools and universities for over 15 years,” said Ms Livingstone, a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, and Telstra chairman. “If we are all agreed that this is an issue, why isn’t enough happening? There should be an intervention now.”

EY’s Mr McLeod added that “people have never seen education as a business, and that encompasses the government as well. Australia has an incredible competitive advantage which we have not been making the most of.”

BCA member and leading director Ziggy Switkowski said: “When asked, very few young Australians say that their career aspiration is to start their own business.

“Yet Australians are a creative and inventive people.

“We need to develop processes which encourage the continuous formation of smart small-to-medium enterprises.”

Despite criticism that the government has left a policy void across the innovation and technology sectors, Innovation Minister Ian Macfarlane said the government had established an investment and competitiveness taskforce which included the prime minister, the treasurer, the industry minister and the minister for trade and investment. “The taskforce is considering the full range of issues that impact on the global competitiveness of Australian businesses,” his spokesperson said.

The McKinsey report is the third in a series that expands their analysis to a broad range of industries including financial services, health, energy, agriculture and education.

The first McKinsey report, “Beyond the boom” was followed by “Extending the LNG boom”. The energy sector will continue to be a focus of this latest report.

“There is a short window of demand [for LNG] which might not exist in five to 10 years’ time,” the consulting firm have warned.

A Senate inquiry into innovation will receive submissions this week, including a joint submission from the BCA and Deloitte Access Economics urging urgent policy action. T

The Australian Institute of Company Directors will launch their campaign for law reform to encourage greater risk-taking and innovation by boards.

112 comments so far

  • People to move to where jobs are ? Ms Livingstone move your business to where people are. People come before business and greed.

    Commenter
    carol
    Date and time
    July 28, 2014, 8:03AM
    • It looks like everyone will be re-locating to India then!

      Commenter
      Pluto
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 9:21AM
    • People aren't people with entrenched lives, families and commitments are they?. They're objects, merely component parts to be moved around the chessboard of big business to enhance their profits. The only ones who advocate relocation are those smug in their misplaced certainty it'll never be them. Open these particular floodgates and you too could find yourself in Weipa or Bouganville and trying to convince your wife and kids that that's a good thing!

      Commenter
      fred
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 9:55AM
    • It is cool for people to refuse to move for work. But that is not a government issue, it is a private one. Government should not be able to spend a cent looking after people who choose unemployment over a shift.

      Commenter
      gt
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 9:59AM
    • There should be no handouts to people who refuse to move for work.

      Commenter
      Sarah of Carnegie
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 10:15AM
    • Most of the jobs in the mining sector are temporary construction jobs.

      Commenter
      Marcus
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 10:32AM
    • If you are talking about moving to a town for a long term job, thats fine if there is housing and facilities available at that location. But for most FIFO jobs; either the work is in the middle of nowhere, or buying/renting accommodation nearby is exorbitant. The other reason may be you are on a short term contract so its not worth uprooting your family. Its nothing like the US where even small towns are very affordable and livable.

      Commenter
      Jim
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 11:08AM
    • Sarah there should be no handouts to international mining companies but there are in fact if the Government redistributed the money given to international mining companies to Australians there would be no budget emergency. But wait on the weekend Hockey admitted there is not budget emergency.

      Commenter
      Jake
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 11:45AM
    • Jake - handouts to international mining companies? I have to laugh.

      Commenter
      what?
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 2:15PM
  • A man used to be paid more so that he could support his family. It's a sad fact, but due to equal pay (reduction of men's salaries to increase women's salaries), most families now require two working parents to support the family. So if one partner moves for work, what happens to the other one, and the rest of the family? So are you suggesting families are broken apart for work? What will we come to next?

    Commenter
    Vlax
    Location
    G.
    Date and time
    July 28, 2014, 8:05AM

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