Date posted: 08/09/2022 8 min read

Jobs and Skills Summit: boosting workforce participation, closing gender pay gap priorities for CA ANZ

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand attended the Australian Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra last week where chief executive officer Ainslie van Onselen advocated for members on issues impacting the accounting profession.

In Brief

  • Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand attended the Australian Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra.
  • Chief executive officer Ainslie van Onselen advocated for members on a number of key issues.
  • How to bolster women’s participation in the workforce was a key discussion point.

By Hannah Tattersall

Nurturing the talent pipeline for a shift in industries and skill sets, the rise of new technology careers and bolstering women’s participation in the workforce were just some of the key issues raised during the Australian Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit, held in Canberra from 1 September and attended by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) chief executive officer Ainslie van Onselen.

Van Onselen says she was encouraged by the breadth of discussion at the two-day summit and the opportunities presented for professional services to devise a plan to overcome the nationwide skills and labour shortages.

“To be invited, as the only accounting body, to such an important summit was incredibly exciting and it was really encouraging to hear that the future of work and industry is one in which accountants will play a vital role,” she says.

Jobs and Skills SummitPictured: Australian Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra.  Image credit: Ben Calvert.

Empowering women

Strengthening women’s participation in the workforce was a key issue for summit delegates. Convened by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Jim Chalmers at Parliament House, more than half of the 146 delegates invited were women, including Sam Mostyn AO, president of Chief Executive Women and chair of the Australian Government’s Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, Tesla chair Robyn Denholm FCA, KPMG Australia chair Alison Kitchen FCA and ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) boss Sally McManus.

Boosting workforce participation and closing the gender pay gap are two big priorities for CA ANZ, van Onselen says. “At CA ANZ we work alongside our members' growing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices. Businesses with solid DEI strategies in place will find it easier to attract and retain talent. Addressing organisational poor cultures will also reduce churn.”

Van Onselen says CA ANZ is “committed to continuing calculating and publishing the gender pay gap for the accounting profession derived from our annual member remuneration survey, and to providing our members with tools and education to help address their own organisational pay gaps.”

She added she was heartened by comments from Mostyn, Anna Bligh, chief of the Australian Banking Association, and Zoe Daniel MP, who raised closing the gender pay gap as a priority. 

Australian businesswoman Samantha Joy Mostyn AO and CA ANZ chief executive officer Ainslie van Onselen Pictured:  Sam Mostyn AO, president of Chief Executive Women and chair of the Australian Government’s Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, and chief executive officer of CA ANZ Ainslie van Onselen. Image credit: Ben Calvert.

“CA ANZ is committed to continuing calculating and publishing the gender pay gap for the accounting profession derived from our annual member remuneration survey, and to providing our members with tools and education to help them address their own organisational pay gaps.”
Ainslie van Onselen, CA ANZ

“It was also pleasing to hear Ms Mostyn call for major reform including tax reforms, policies and initiatives that remove discrimination against women and girls,” says van Onselen, who spoke with Mostyn and Bligh about the work CA ANZ is doing in this area.

“KPMG chair Alison Kitchen called for thinking on how we value unpaid work. This is vital to improve respect and recognition of the value of women’s work,” says van Onselen. “There is surely a role that the accounting profession can play here.”

Closing the superannuation gap

CA ANZ would like to see the annual superannuation cap replaced with a lifetime cap and van Onselen raised this at the summit. “The annual cap penalises people who can only make larger contributions late in their working career,” she says. "It is particularly unfair on women who take extended leave or work part-time to care for children and other family members.

“The drivers of high marginal tax rates that reduce the incentive to participate in the workforce should also be addressed, such as the interaction of the transfer and tax systems.”

Tech jobs ahead

Delegates heard from a range of speakers about the issues impacting Australia’s workforce now and in the future, including Woolworths Group’s managing director and CEO Brad Banducci, mining magnate Andrew Forrest, and CSIRO senior research consultant Claire Naughtin.

While only 14% of Australian jobs face a risk of being replaced by automation, many more will be affected, Naughtin said. “This is not to say that this 14% of workers doesn’t matter. They certainly do. And there’ll be an important consideration in exploring ways to transition these workers into alternative fulfilling and satisfying work.”

Naughtin told the Jobs and Skills Summit: “The majority of the task ahead will be in supporting workers in adapting to changing skill requirements.”

“Most jobs won’t be automated by artificial intelligence (AI), but most jobs will be augmented by AI,” she said.

Atlassian co-founder and chief executive Scott Farquhar told the summit Australia is currently 186,000 jobs short of the 1.2 million technology jobs we’ll need in 2030 and said Atlassian will hire more than 1000 people in Australia and New Zealand in the next year.

Van Onselen says this is positive news for the accounting profession in general and for chartered accountants in particular, as the new CA Program was designed to futureproof accountants to work more closely with the technology sector.

Further advocacy wins for the profession includes the government’s agreement to reform the microcredentials framework, assess the effectiveness of the skilled migration occupation lists, expand pathways to permanent residency for temporary skilled sponsored workers, and to consider policies to address regional labour shortages and how to improve small business access to skilled migration.

The outcomes of the Jobs and Skills Summit will inform an Employment White Paper, led by Treasury and designed to help shape the future of Australia’s labour market.

Pictured: Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Sally McManaus, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Chief executive officer of CA ANZ Ainslie van Onselen, and Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O' Connor.Pictured: Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Sally McManaus, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Chief executive officer of CA ANZ Ainslie van Onselen, and Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O' Connor. Image credit: Gary Ramage.

Find out more:

Jobs and Skills Summit overview

An overview of our Jobs Summit highlights, advocacy and media is available in My CA.

Read more