NSW budget commits support for thousands more skilled workers

The NSW government released its 2019-20 Budget this week, committing to skills development, while also highlighting a gas shortage that could affect businesses in the state.

The release of the budget, in June, emphasises the government’s goal of creating 250,000 more jobs to strengthen the state’s economy. The budget continues to cut payroll tax allowing businesses to employ more people and increase wages.

The NSW government is committing to 100,000 fee free VET and TAFE courses, which builds on last year’s 100,000 free apprenticeships, to grow the workforce of the future.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said right now the economic headwinds are picking up, but the government is taking steps to keep the state’s economy strong.

“While other states are raising taxes, we’re cutting them, because we want our workers and businesses to have every opportunity to keep getting ahead,” said Perrottet.

While the budget shows support for skilled workers, it also indicates the struggle the state is facing to give industry affordable and sustainable gas supplies.

Mark Goodsell, Ai Group NSW head, noted that businesses and manufacturing enterprises are feeling the effects of a slowing economy in NSW, and will continue to struggle until affordable gas supplies can be found that will reduce the cost of energy.

“The state is facing a shortage of gas for domestic use and for large industrial users who provide thousands of jobs and feed into the broader energy market. We need to unblock production barriers while ensuring community concerns are answered, and work to establish a clear pathway and timetable for a more competitive gas market,” said Goodsell.

Goodsell further identified areas which need to be address but have been left out of this budget.

“Issues that received little additional attention in this budget but which are very important for the State’s future include energy efficiency improvement for both industry and households, managing our domestic waste streams and facilitating greater collaboration between business and our research sector,” said Goodsell.

With falls in stamp duty revenue, slow wages growth and risks to consumer sentiment, the government has trimmed its spending and announced cuts to back office staff in the public sector.

However, the NSW government has committed to providing support for skills development with 100 000 fee-free TAFE and VET courses. Goodsell, highlighted that this announcement should be followed with a further commitment to future skills.

“The next step is allowing the VET system to quickly absorb the requirements for digital skills across a wide range of sectors,” said Goodsell.

For all business, the government has continued to raise the payroll tax threshold towards the target of $1 million in 2021-22. Small businesses have been targeted with $6.7 million for business advice, while $48.5 million is being dedicated to reducing the time and complexity that it takes to get approvals for business.