The latest NAB Business Insight Survey has revealed that about 4 in 10 businesses are suffering “very significant” impacts from labour shortages, with little confidence that the issue will be resolved in the next 12 months.
'To get the economy really firing we will need to bring people into Australia and make sure, as a nation, we’re building a skilled workforce for the future,' says Ross McEwan, CEO, NAB.
This survey of 1600 Australian businesses across a broad range of sectors shows nearly 38% of medium and 37% of large forms affirming that labour shortages are a significant issue. 31% of small businesses also agree to this. Trade workers (35%) and professionals (32%) are the most common types of labour shortages, with 1 in 5 businesses hit by a shortage of sales staff (20%), unskilled labour (19%), machinery operators and drivers (19%).
More than half of respondents said opening borders would resolve the issue, 56% in support of opening state borders and 52% for international. 45% of respondents called for increased immigration. Another 47 % of respondents said boosting apprenticeships and skills training would also help, while other suggestions for countering the talent crunch included work-life balance, more on-the-job training and paying staff more. But it must be noted that increasing wages without increasing the supply of labour will lead to inflation.
Although the mining and manufacturing sectors predicted some easing in shortages over the coming 12 months, all other industries are expecting things to get worse. Of those surveyed from transport and storage, 40% predicted very significant effects would be felt in 2022. Construction and retail respondents also anticipate a worsening in shortages. Among the states, Western Australia saw the highest percentage of businesses as much as 44% citing very significant shortages over the past three months. A staggering 82% of WA respondents said reopening state borders would have the biggest impact on their businesses, while 63% of Queensland respondents said the same.
With staffing crises rampant in the country, the need for internal and international migration is clearly felt for short term and long term economic revival. However, the recent Covid surge continues to raise new challenges for the country.