Biggest challenge facing Aussie businesses

The PM called it the single biggest challenge facing Australia’s economy and it’s an issue that has many business owners across Australia sweating.
Businesses are screaming out to fill gaping holes in Australia’s workforce following a major dip in migration during the pandemic.
Online jobs ads reached their highest level since 2006 this month, climbing by eight per cent to 311,100 according to the National Skills Commission.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison called labour shortages the “single biggest challenge facing the Australian economy today” in an interview with ABC’s 730 this week.
Both major parties say they will boost migration to help deal with the skills shortages, but business representatives say neither plan goes far enough at urgently getting workers back into the country.
Australia’s current migration plan for 2022-23 includes 109,900 spaces for skilled migrants, compared to 79,600 the year before.
“The immigration program will begin to build back up again and it’ll focus heavily on skills,” Mr Morrison explained Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said with borders reopened, Australia should be seeking to boost immigration way beyond “business as usual” to make up for lost ground during the pandemic.
“This would relieve critical areas of skills shortage such as IT and engineering, where projects are being held back by the lack of available talent,” she said.
“Skilled migrants boost demand, increase productivity and workforce participation, and deliver talent and experience that complements local workers.”
Ms Westacott added in many cases overseas workers brought specific skill sets the domestic labour force could not provide.
Mr Morrison said his government had aimed to increase domestic training programs to fill skilled positions and boasts having 220,000 Australians currently undertaking apprenticeships.
Employers aren’t the only ones taking a hit, with data showing on Wednesday wages had fallen in real terms after rising at less than half the rate of inflation.
ABS data showed wages rose by 0.7 per cent in the March 2022 quarter, with an annual rise of 2.4 per cent.Mr Morrison said he supports lifting wages but would leave it up to Australia’s industrial relations tribunal.
“I support the Fair Work Commission making decisions on wages, taking into account all the factors that impact on people’s cost of living and whether they’ll be better off,” he said.
Ms Westacott said the best way to ensure wage rises are lasting and help with the cost of living was to lift productivity.
She said supply side issues such as a lack of workers needed to be dealt with to keep the economy on track.
“We must keep the recovery on track by dealing with the supply side issues that risk stalling the economy,” she said.

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