Pollies urged to pay attention to lack of skills | Liverpool City Champion
Skills shortages are top of mind for business owners voting as Australia’s unemployment rate eyes new lows and vacancies go unfilled.
The border closures have deepened the skills gaps Australia faced before the pandemic, and promises of job creation ring hollow throughout the election campaign for many.
The latest confidence index from the Australian Institute of Chief Executives (AICD) released on Thursday shows that labor shortages are a major economic challenge.
Some 60% of directors mentioned skills shortages, followed by global economic uncertainty and climate change.
“Skills are a critical area in this campaign and in this economy,” AICD chief executive Angus Armor told AAP.
Technology across industries, small professional businesses, healthcare, elderly care and hospitality faces significant gaps, according to directors of businesses, charities and other organisations.
“Businesses big and small are facing severe skills shortages,” he said.
Mr Armor said a business services company had spent more than a year trying to fill a vacancy and thousands of dollars building a case with immigration officials, but was turned down because the qualified Canadian she wanted to bring in was over 35 years old.
“Immigration is only part of the answer, and it’s an important part, especially for short-term gaps,” he said.
“But we continue to miss the point in terms of educating Australians in a way that will give them sustainable work in the future.”
For Labor, the answer is more vocational training and a stronger university system.
The Labor Party’s plan for free TAFE for students studying in skills shortage sectors includes 45,000 new places.
Some 20,000 additional university places are promised in 2022 and 2023, with a priority on skills gaps in clean energy, advanced manufacturing, health and education.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged to create 1.3 million jobs over the next five years and has plans for advanced manufacturing, critical minerals and digital transformation.
“My priorities are jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs,” he said in Tasmania.
Courting bosses at a business lunch in Western Australia, where resource companies are struggling with skills shortages, Mr Morrison said Australia needed to develop the skills of its own people.
“That’s why we invest so much in training,” he said.
Steve Coughlan, one of the founders of international mining contractors Byrnecut Group, asked how Australia can compete for more skilled migration as the resource industry faces global shortages.
Mr Morrison said immigration would pick up as Australia emerges from the pandemic and there are more opportunities for skilled migration, especially in the west, but it will take time.
“I hope to see more people move to Australia,” he said.
Chief Economist of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA), Aaron Morey, says there are labor shortages in the regions and in the metropolitan area, and that business roles remain in high demand.
Nine out of ten businesses in the Pilbara, Mid West/Gascoyne and Great Southern regions cited skills shortages as a barrier to their growth, according to the latest CCIWA survey.
Businesses in these regions continue to have difficulty attracting both seasonal and skilled workers.
COVID-19 isolation requirements create additional challenges for businesses looking to fill lists.
Nearly two-thirds of WA regional businesses are responding to the labor crisis by training additional staff, including hiring interns and apprentices, and 60% are raising wages, CCIWA found.
The National Skills Commission’s March Internet Vacancy Index saw an increase in job vacancies across all job skill levels for the third month in a row, to 282,400.
Online platform SEEK says job advertisements hit the highest level in SEEK’s 25-year history in March and are nearly a third higher than a year earlier, but job applications by ad decline as demand outstrips talent.
The official unemployment rate for women fell to 3.7% in March, the lowest since May 1974.
For men, it was stable at 4.2%, the second lowest level since November 2008.
In the short term, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) says further relaxation of close contact isolation rules for household contacts in NSW and Victoria will reduce labor shortages. ‘work.
ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said acute staff absenteeism continued to place a significant burden on businesses, alongside the worst labor shortage in nearly 50 years.
The International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations, says many countries have a persistent skills shortage.
A “skills anticipation” strategy is recommended to prepare for future needs.
Such a strategy would imply that training providers, young people, policy makers, employers and workers have access to better education and training choices.
Australian Associated Press