Gender Equity Victoria (GEN VIC) is calling for five key priorities for gender equity at the Jobs and Skills Summit. Representing over 50 organisations working towards gender equity, it is advocating for gender equity and Australian women to be centre stage.
“If we are serious about lifting wages, increasing productivity and setting the nation up for a continuing, prosperous future, we must also get serious about improving the conditions of Australian women workers”, says GEN VIC CEO Tanja Kovac.
GEN VIC’s five priorities for the Jobs and Skills Summit are:
1. Delivering a gender equal jobs and skills strategy.
“It is a jobs and skills system failure every time a woman reduces her working hours, compromises her career aspirations or quits working altogether because she can’t balance caring for children and her employment,” said Ms Kovac, “Addressing our parental leave scheme, our childcare subsidies and early childhood education system is core business of the jobs plan. Any strategy that comes out of the summit must be gender equal.”
2. Investment in the care economy.
There is a reason we are experiencing, teacher, nursing and early childhood educator shortages in Australia. Caring roles are deeply gender segregated in Australia and during the pandemic the high demand for caring work coupled with poor wages and conditions has created a perfect skills shortage storm.
The Victorian Skills Authority predicts that the state needs to hire an additional 64,718 health and community workers by 2025 to meet demand. This is double the jobs anticipated for construction and three times more than required in manufacturing. The Victorian Health and Community sector is 75% women.
“We commend the Victorian Government’s pledge to fully fund tertiary places in nursing as an incentive to draw people into the nursing profession,” said Ms Kovac, “The Jobs and Skills Summit needs to learn from the gender lens being applied to skills planning in Victoria and invest in the care economy.”
3. Establishment of Jobs and Skills Australia with a dedicated unit to drive intersectional gender equity through the national skills system.
This unit should be empowered to review and improve gender equity in our training and education provider system, the way that we assess quality, forecast labour needs, evaluate success of our training system and the cultural/policy settings (inclusive of funding, education/training practice and advisory mechanisms). It should also apply a gender lens to skilled migration. Gender discriminatory practices don’t just occur in skill acquisition, but also in skills recognition, when migrant women’s overseas credentials are overlooked and dismissed.
4. Embedding principles of shared care at home.
“Victoria’s unpaid care economy has been estimated to be valued at $206B – half of the state’s GDP. To pretend something of this size does not exist in economic terms produces perverse results in our productivity and participation planning,” said Ms Kovac “We need a new living wage compact that makes it possible for men, women and non-binary people to undertake paid work, while sharing the care of loved ones and the home.”
5. Examination of the growth of micro-enterprise during the pandemic.
“Faced with workplaces that don’t work for them – inflexible working hours and unequal pay – women took employment into their own hands. During the pandemic, entrepreneurial women created thousands of unincorporated, self-employment opportunities to counter job losses but received very little government support,” said Ms Kovac.
The summit needs to call for more support for microenterprise research and initiatives, like the one envisaged by GEN VIC, Fitted for Work and Koorie Women Mean Business, to help women transition from self-employed micro-business to job-creating small to medium enterprises.
MEDIA ENQUIRIES. Tanja Kovac, CEO GEN VIC, Ph. Mob 0419 910 577, firstname.lastname@example.org