Occupational licensing is it the way forward?

The federal government recently called for submissions for their employment white paper. This is a follow on from the Jobs and Skills Summit and is designed to explore issues, frameworks and policy approaches relevant to the future of Australia. 

CEDA (Committee for Economic Development of Australia) wrote a white paper regarding skills recognition and the impact this could have on the Australian economy. Their submission focused on delivering a more dynamic labour market and included discussion papers on five individual topics associated with skills recognition.  

One such topic that is relevant to our industry is occupational licensing. It is believed occupational licensing affects one in five occupations1 in Australia and CEDA believes that this area of our economy is restricting entry to those who have acquired their skills through different paths or in other states.  

Occupational licensing is designed to protect the consumer and public safety, as well as service quality. CEDA argues that while licensing is designed to protect these, international research has failed to identify improvements in quality in strict regulatory environments or that quality suffers when restrictions are reduced. They also argue that occupational licensing didn’t prevent the non-compliant cladding issue and that there are better ways to protect consumers by setting quality standards for the services provided. 

CEDA acknowledged that there is an Automatic Mutual Recognition of Occupational Registrations scheme that came into effect in July 2021 that allows workers to work in different jurisdictions without having to pay additional registration. While CEDA states this has improved occupational licensing amongst the states, workers still need to be licensed in one jurisdiction to participate and Queensland is not a party to this agreement. 

While it is early days and the CEDA paper is designed to be a discussion piece, it will be interesting to watch if this is an area the Australian government will look to pursue. Interesting to note that the Victorian government is looking to introduce registration and licensing schemes for tradespeople to reduce non-compliant building work and will commence with carpentry in 2023. We look forward to further developments. 

The CEDA Employment White Paper submission 

  1. CEDA Skills Recognition – Employment White Paper Submission pg8