At National Cabinet’s meeting in Canberra last week, it committed to addressing the skills shortage playing out around Australia. The shortage is affecting many industries, including the on and off-trade in the liquor industry as well as grape growers and winemakers in regional areas.
Newly installed Immigration Minister, Andrew Giles, is tasked with clearing the backlog in processing visa applications with reported waiting times of 15 months for skilled students and seven months for international students.
The Commonwealth says that it will urgently work to address the backlog, processing the applications more quickly, reducing processing times and prioritising training.
Mr Giles has told media that speeding up approvals is his number one priority to allow skilled migrants, international students and tourists to enter the country as soon as possible.
He says that he and his department are doing “all that they can” to get on top of the backlog”.
” We need to be making sure that we are allocating resources to this urgent crisis, this backlog that has built up over many years,” he said.
Governments around the country and industry concord that workers are urgently needed to support Australia’s economic recovery, that migration numbers should be increased and that faster visa processing times should become the norm.
In addition to increasing migration numbers, they are also advocating re-training and upskilling people who have stepped away from business, supporting free training courses and looking to the older population segment of Australia to entice them back to work.
The Business Council of Australia’s chief executive Jennifer Westacott says, “To deliver sustained wages growth and higher productivity, we must lift record low business investment because that’s what drives companies to do new things, expand and innovate.
“There is no silver bullet – we need to address critical labour shortages, build up skills; make it easier to get back into the workforce and make it much easier to do business in Australia…We need a pathway to sustained wages growth fuelled by productivity.”