Albanese Government

Albanese Government’s Response to Labour and Skill Shortages

Labour skills shortages are a major concern for Prime Minister Albanese, impacting Australia’s post-pandemic recovery.

Australia’s skill shortages have become a persistent problem since the global shutdown and continue to be a key issue for the Australian manufacturing industry at both state and territory levels.

Current labour market rating, around 850,000  Australians are employed within the manufacturing sector and there is a high demand for more employees with a skills priority list.

The years 2020-2021 saw skill shortages in overseas migration in every state due to the pandemic. However, reopened borders mean migration is set to increase and alleviate some pressure placed on the employment of current labour market rating.

To assist with the kick-start of the job market, the incumbent Albanese Government has promised change and subsequently announced its plans to address the skilled migration and visa backlog that is slowing the process of economic recovery for the future demand rating and promises for subsequent government policy responses.

Read more about how the industry’s employment projections and how DayJobs can help you here.

Key Takeaways

  • The Albanese Government recognizes labor skills shortages as a major obstacle to Australia’s economic recovery post-pandemic, especially within the manufacturing sector.

  • Plans to amend skilled migration and visa backlogs have been announced to combat these shortages, acknowledging the critical role skilled migration plays in economic recovery.

  • The manufacturing industry, contributing significantly to Australia’s GDP, faces a potential growth setback due to skill shortages, highlighting the urgency of the government’s response.

  • Comparatively, labor shortages are a global issue, with countries like the United States, Germany, Canada, and the United Kingdom adopting various strategies, such as enhancing immigration policies and investing in domestic workforce development, to mitigate the impact.

  • The Albanese Government’s initiatives, including a $15 billion manufacturing fund, aim to revitalize the Australian workforce and manufacturing sector, addressing both immediate and long-term challenges.

Albanese Government Announcement 

In his first National Cabinet meeting, Anthony Albanese announced plans to amend the skilled migration and a visa backlog.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the need to assist companies struggling to run their businesses due to labour skills shortages. 

The Labor leader said there is an “extraordinary backlog” of visas. He continued to announce that some skilled visa applicants have been waiting between 12 to 18 months to be able to join the workforce, negatively affecting all stakeholders.. 

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Premiers in Western Australia and South Australia have voiced their concerns about labour shortages and the impact it has on the state’s economies,  noting that skilled migration is key to economic recovery in relations to the labour market analysis.

South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas said, “there needs to be a reopening of skilled migration as a country.”

As the manufacturing industry contributes around $100 billion to the Australian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually, a further skills shortage could see a cataclysmic impact on the nation’s economic growth and in the Australian labour market.

Due to this, it is at the forefront of the Albanese government’s agenda. 

Mr. Albanese has suggested more short-term migration to fill the supply and demand gap in Australia skill shortages for future demand rating and for national skills needs.

Australia’s Push to Address Skills Shortage: A Focus on Visa Backlog and Domestic Manufacturing

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that the unemployment rate for April 2023 was 3.7%.

In current labour market data analysis, 140,000 skilled visa applications are waiting to be processed, according to the Department of Home Affairs.

To remedy this, the Albanese government has temporarily moved staff into the department to help clear the backlog of visa applications and skill shortages.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles says processing the “backlog” of visas is at the forefront of the Albanese government’s plans to help the economy recover from Australia’s skills shortage.

Mr. Albanese has also recognised the skills shortage in manufacturing over the past few years and has vowed to “rebuild” and domesticate the industry for skilled workers such as personal service workers and construction managers.

Global Perspectives: How Australia’s Labor Shortage Compares to Other Nations

The labor shortage crisis is not unique to Australia. Across the globe, nations grapple with similar challenges, each employing distinct strategies to mitigate the impact. By comparing Australia’s situation with other countries, we can gain valuable insights and perhaps lessons to be learned.

  • United States: The U.S. has experienced significant labor shortages, particularly in the technology, healthcare, and hospitality sectors. The response has included increasing wages to attract workers and investing in training programs to reskill the unemployed. The U.S. also relies heavily on skilled immigration, much like Australia, and has made efforts to streamline visa processes for specific sectors.

  • Germany: Known for its robust manufacturing sector, Germany has faced skilled labor shortages due in part to an aging workforce. The country has responded with a dual approach: encouraging youth apprenticeship programs and easing immigration policies for skilled workers, especially in engineering and IT.

  • Canada: Canada’s approach to labor shortages has been to expand its immigration policy, particularly through the Express Entry system, which fast-tracks skilled immigrants. The country has also focused on integrating immigrants into the workforce more effectively, recognizing foreign credentials, and providing language training.

  • United Kingdom: Post-Brexit, the UK faces unique labor challenges, particularly in agriculture and healthcare. The government introduced a new points-based immigration system to attract skilled workers but has also faced calls to focus on training domestic workers to fill these gaps.

While each country’s situation is unique, the common themes of balancing immigration with domestic workforce development, and the need for flexible, responsive policies, are evident. Australia’s response to the labor shortage can draw on these international experiences to develop a multifaceted approach that ensures the resilience and growth of its industries.

Future Projections

Workforce Share in Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry accounts for approximately 6.3% of Australia’s workforce.

Employee Numbers (2019-2021)

The Australian Parliament data indicates that from February 2019 to February 2020, the number of employed people in the manufacturing sector increased from 866,000 to 922,800. However, from February 2020 to February 2021, there was a decrease to 902,000 employees, a 2.3% drop. This doesn’t exactly match the mentioned figures of 14,000 fewer employees in 2019-2020 and a recovery of 9,000 more staff in 2020-2021.

Labour market data analysis claim about a decrease in employment is substantiated by ABS data showing a 1.3% or 11,600 workers’ reduction in manufacturing employment over the year to August 2020.

Structural Steel and Welding Growth

There is a projected growth of 2.1% in Structural Steel and Welding for the next year, according to the Labour Market Insights. This opens for more trade workers and opportunities for training funding as well as apprenticeship incentives for suitable applicants.

Funding and Resources for Recovery

  • The Albanese Government has passed a $15 billion manufacturing fund to help the Australian workforce.
  • In the 2022-23 budget, an additional $750 million was invested into the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, along with $200 million as part of the Regional Accelerator Program to bolster the industry.
  • The government committed $15 billion to the National Reconstruction Fund to support the manufacturing sector, marking one of the largest investments in manufacturing in Australia’s history.
  • Additionally, $500 million in unspent manufacturing grants were redirected to a $15 billion industry fund by the Albanese Government.

Conclusion

The Albanese Government has taken proactive measures to address the persistent labour and skill shortages that have been hampering Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery. Recognizing the significant role of the manufacturing sector in the nation’s economy, the Albanese government has prioritized clearing the visa backlog to facilitate skilled migration and boost employment.

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