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From a communication point-of-view, the editorial headline in today’s AFR (13/7/22) is, I think, weird and telling – it’s back to front: “Labor must use jobs summit to find its purpose.”

Normally you have a Purpose and then a Summit. Any well-organised event has a key topic for delegates to focus on. A board meeting has a strategy to decide on and then execute. A staff meeting must discuss an issue.

The Jobs Summit has the potential to become a talk fest with various vested interests using it as a platform for a headline.

The Prime Minister has listed seven topics to be discussed (below): all are predictable, and I argue are better debated, over time, in the media. Also, seven topics is too broad.

Excellence in communication is about driving towards an outcome.
What about getting people to focus on, “Three achievable nation-building ideas to lift productivity” or “Uniting behind four innovations that will increase wages and not increase inflation”? Others will have better ‘Big Ideas’, however, if there is a challenging purpose to unite disparate groups, then delegates would have until September to prepare their ideas, and then after the summit, they can focus on outcomes.

I’m by nature an optimist. And I do understand the value of meeting simply for improving collegiality. The communicator in me, however, warns me that the Jobs Summit is risking being more style than substance.

Here is part of the PM’s press release.

Our goal is to build a bigger, better-trained and more productive workforce; boost incomes and living standards; and create more opportunities for more Australians to get ahead and to reach their aspirations.

The themes and outcomes of the Summit will inform the Employment White Paper, which will help to shape the future of Australia’s labour market. It will be led by Treasury, which will invite submissions and engage the wider community over the next 12 months.

The Summit will cover a range of topics with a focus on:

  • Keeping unemployment low, boosting productivity and raising incomes
  • Delivering secure, well-paid jobs and strong, sustainable wages growth
  • Expanding employment opportunities for all Australians including the most disadvantaged
  • Addressing skills shortages and getting our skills mix right over the long-term
  • Improving migration settings to support higher productivity and wages
  • Maximising jobs and opportunities from renewable energy, tackling climate change, the digital economy, the care economy and a Future Made in Australia
  • Ensuring women have equal opportunities and equal pay.

We will have more to say about the format of the Summit closer to the event.
For more information, visit Jobs and Skills Summit.

The Government continues to build a stronger, broader and more sustainable economy that works for everyone.

Author Peter Wilkinson

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