Australian teens as young as 13 could be eligible to work to fill the labour shortages across the country.
The controversial plan was presented by the Australian Retailers Association, which represents over 5,000 workers, to implement a national legal working age, according to news.com.au.
Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said: “Agreeing to a national framework on young workers would help mobilise a willing and able cohort of people to help address the staffing shortfall.”
He added: “An ideal model would be one where we allow 13- to 15-year-olds to work, with sensible regulations in place around not working during school hours or at times that would impact a young person’s education.”
Currently, there is no minimum age to work casually or part-time in NSW, Tasmania and South Australia.
However, children must be 15 and over in Victoria and Western Australia to get a proper job.
In Queensland, the minimum age for part-time or casual work is 13; however, parental or guardian consent must be provided.
Despite the plan attempting to resolve the country’s dire labour shortages, Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Marles, said ahead of the ‘jobs and skills summit’ that 13-year-olds were too young to enter the workforce.
"We don't want to pre-empt what's coming out of the jobs and skills summit over the next couple of days, but that's certainly not a plan that the government has in mind," he told Nine Network.
"Every business that you talk to, large and small, is struggling to find the people with the skills that they need and that's what we need to be addressing."
According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, there are 480,100 job vacancies in the country, a 111.1 per cent increase since February 2020.
The industries facing the worst staff shortages are the health care and social assistance sector, recording 68,900 vacancies.
Additionally, Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor said that the country also needed to recognise migrants' existing skills and qualifications, potentially through ‘bridging training’, rather than forcing them to study again.
He added: “Driving economic productivity is not just about hard hats, it’s about investing in all sectors of the labour market suffering skill shortages, whether that be healthcare services, retail, IT, financial services, education and training or other areas experiencing a skills deficit.”
Featured Image Credit: GOING ASTRAY / Alamy Stock Photo. Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 13+ / Alamy Stock Photo
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