The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for “swift action” from the government to address the rising labour and skill shortages. As reported in HRD Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data on 30 June showed that the number of advertised positions increased 14% over the past three months to almost half a million.
"Businesses big and small, across every sector, and right around the country are facing enormous pressures to recruit and retain staff,” said Andrew McKellar, Chief Executive at ACCI. “Workforce shortages are holding back business and holding back the economy.”
The crisis-level skills shortages proved unhelpful for Australian businesses, as it came at a time when unemployment was at its lowest in 48 years and consumer demand was strengthening. As a result, Australian businesses have turned to alternatives such as having current employees work additional hours where possible, reducing their operating capacity, or ceasing their operations entirely.
“According to a recent OECD report, Australia is experiencing the second-worst skills crisis in the developed world, reinforcing the need for swift action from government to ensure businesses have access to the workers they need,” added McKellar.
The ACCI released a workforce policy position paper, primarily addressed to the government, which proposed a three-pronged approach to discussing the workforce shortage, aiming to “develop skills, encourage increased workforce participation and rebuild sustainable migration.”
To further develop the skills of existing and potential employees, a long-term consistent, and actual budget increase for Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) must be initiated to satisfy skill shortages and skill needs. Moreover, to increase workforce participation, the government should provide adequate funding for the employment services system to redirect the unemployed to the right job opportunities.
The business sector also encouraged the government to tap into a broader talent group inclusive of mature-aged workers, youth, women and parents, and people with disabilities. The ACCI also recommended an increase in permanent migration intake, including a significant rise in the cap for skilled migration to 200,000 for at least the next two years to drive post-pandemic economic recovery.