Published 22-06-2021
| Article appears in August 2021 Issue

Borders need to open to relieve labour shortages, says Ai Group

18-06-2021
Innes Willox
Innes Willox

While the recent improvement in the Australian labour market was very encouraging, the country’s closed borders were contributing to a labour shortage that is constraining business activity and growth, according to Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group.

"Alongside the improving labour market, businesses are increasingly reporting extreme difficulties in filling vacant positions. While the most acute difficulties are in highly-skilled personnel, the shortages extend right across the labour force and regional businesses appear to be among the worst affected,” he said

"Without doubt, a large part of the issue is our closed borders. Australia has traditionally drawn on the inflow of people from abroad to fill positions in roles that are difficult to find locally. Whether it is nurses and other medical personnel, engineers and IT specialists, managers, tradies, or seasonal agricultural workers, permanent and temporary migrants have provided skills, personnel and mobility to our labour force.

"It is clearly time to reconsider how we can turn the tap back on in a way that is consistent with our public health concerns and the benefits we are enjoying due to our successes in managing the global pandemic.

"The current international border setting is virtually no-one-in and no-one-out. This needs to give way to a more sensible position and a much more ambitious border opening goal than the July 2022 target currently adopted by the Federal Government. Our critical skill shortages are only going to get worse the longer our border remains closed," he said.

On the positive side, Mr Willox said: “With more people in jobs and improving unemployment and underemployment, business and consumer confidence will continue to lift and that will encourage many more businesses to look for new opportunities and to activate plans to expand, invest and innovate.”
 

RELATED NEWS

  1. Renaissance One, which is building the country’s first giga-scale battery manufacturing facility in the Hunter Region industrial suburb of Tomago, has appointed three Australian companies to provide key components that will be used to manufacture its superStorage™ family of batteries.
    The news...
  2. As the US government invests A$4.4 billion of funding for battery manufacturing, processing and recycling, Australia’s access to raw materials means the country can better invest in onshore battery supply chains compared to countries with fewer mines.
    Both political parties are fully behind a...
  3. Although an unwelcome announcement for the automaker, it also wouldn’t necessarily be unexpected in an era of parts shortages and supply chain challenges. This time, however, the reason ended up being much more exciting.
    UPI reports that security personnel at a Mercedes-Benz factory in western...