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Anne Webster – Not enough workers

In every town across Mallee it’s the same story. Not enough unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers.

In fact, this story is being heard throughout the country.

In May, job vacancies in Australia reached a record of 480,000. 

Labor shortage is not a new problem, especially after COVID, but all options need to be on the table to meet the serious demand. The government needs to pull all the levers already at their disposal.

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Desperate small business owners throughout the Wimmera tell me of their devastating struggle to find workers. 

People are working unsustainable hours to keep their head above water, farmers are struggling to attract labor, tradies have long wait times and we all know if you need a doctor you will wait weeks for an appointment. It’s really tough.

While there is no silver bullet, there are certainly moves we can make to alleviate the burden of workforce shortages.

First, the visa system needs to be simplified and processing needs to be expedited. I’ve been calling for this for some time. Streamlining the visa system will make Australia more competitive in the global skills market. 

As the Business Council of Australia’s chief executive, Jennifer Westacott has said, we need to ‘outcompete others in the fierce global battle to attract the best talent and skills’.

We also need boots on the ground for the unskilled roles. Which is why Labor’s decision to scrap the Ag Visa – all but in name – is baffling.

On an encouraging note, more than 21,500 workers have arrived in Australia since the Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme began after COVID in May 2022. The Coalition in office worked hard to attract these workers in.

Second, we must increase investment into home-grown skills. Under the Coalition, a record 220,000 Aussies were in trade apprenticeships. 

The budget that the Coalition delivered earlier this year supported an additional 800,000 training places for school leavers and job seekers. It’s now up to Labor to build on that.

It is pleasing that Federal Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor supports the Coalition’s two-fold approach to workforce shortage through migration and investment in trades and apprenticeships. 

Now, Labor must deliver on their plan.

The entire July 27, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire July 27, 2022 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!