More than 25 industry associations have signed agreements to help tackle Australia’s growing skills and labour shortages. The agreements signed with Asuria, a public service provider that helps job seekers find long-term employment, will deliver a range of employment and skills programs on behalf of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
Among the 25 industry associations to have signed agreements are: the National Retail Association, Master Grocers Australia, the Queensland Hotels Association, the Australian Meat Industry Council and Master Plumbers Association NSW.
More than 25 additional industry associations are currently in conversation with Asuria regarding their involvement in the initiative.
Post-lockdown Australia is experiencing a labour crisis, primarily caused by shortages of job-ready job seekers able to fill positions in industries such as retail, travel and hospitality.
Former Minister for Vocational and Technical Education, The Hon Gary Hardgrave, devised the new initiative after being commissioned by Austria in August of 2021.
Mr Hardgrave said, “The problems we’re seeing coming down the track right now are very similar to those we witnessed in government in the early noughties, during my tenure as Minister for Vocational and Technical Education.
“To avert a crisis-in-waiting, collectively, we need to invest more heavily in workforce planning. That means employers being vocal about the support they need, Australia’s labour force being encouraged to seek out training and employment opportunities, and expert facilitators empowered to apply their expertise to the problem on behalf of the government.”
The agreement will unite Australia’s industry associations behind a plan to deliver a range of job-ready programs, including tailored Government Employability Skills Training (EST) programs. The Department of Education, Skills and Employment will, for the first time, focus on job skills vital to Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery.
The anticipated reopening of international and state borders by the end of the year will not see the end of COVID-related economic damage. The mounting labour crisis is likely to have long term economic impacts that cannot be addressed by immigration alone.
Con Kittos, Chairman and CEO of Asuria, said, “While we all look forward to the uninhibited reopening of international borders to help address these challenging labour shortages, it’s perilous to assume that immigration will be a panacea for Australia’s economic recovery, as we remain several years away from a return to pre-pandemic levels of overseas arrivals.”
The agreement will instead focus on strengthening Australia’s economy from the inside. Ensuring the key positions in major industries can be filled by domestic labour into the future.
Mr Kittos continued: “An over-reliance on an influx of foreign workers doesn’t do justice to the talents and ambitions of Australians here and now, who have never had a better opportunity to get back into work or change careers. That’s why it’s important we do everything we can to make the pathways to jobs that sit at the heart of Australia’s economic recovery as enticing as possible for domestic job seekers.”
Businesses feeling the impact of skill shortages
After almost two years in and out of lockdown, many businesses across the east coast have struggled to stay afloat. Reopening their doors has presented a different challenge, not being able to find quality, qualified staff. By signing onto Asuria’s agreements, industry associations such as the National Retail Association hope to address their member’s most pressing concern.
Dominique Lamb, CEO of the National Retail Association, said, “Retailers have already faced enormous challenges throughout the pandemic. But just when it looks as though lockdowns will become a thing of the past, many will be unable to have enough staff to maximise their operations.”
Asuria is already working with many industry associations and their members, employers at the heart of Australia’s economic recovery. Together they are working to co-create training programs and employment pathways tailored to each industry, providing job seekers with essential skills and support necessary to thousands of current and future job vacancies.
Ms Lamb continued: “All industries affected by labour shortages need to come together to provide practical solutions to avert the looming crisis. As the peak retail industry body, the NRA is very enthusiastic to be part of this crucial initiative.”
It’s not just the retail, hospitality and tourism industries that see the need to address the growing labour crisis, from building to boating; industry associations have put their hand up to get involved.
Industry associations to have signed letters of intent with Asuria are:
- Building Service Contractors Association of Australia
- Fruit Growers Association
- Australian Meat industry Council
- Berries Australia
- Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
- Foodservice Suppliers Association
- Supply Chain & Logistics Association of Australia
- Master Grocers Australia
- Queensland Hotels Association
- Australasian Timber Flooring Association
- Boating Industry Association
- Traffic Management Association of Australia
- Master Plumbers Association NSW
- Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals
- National Retail Association
- NSW Business Chamber
- Community Housing Industry Association NSW
- Australian Organics Recycling Association
- Accord Australia
- ACOR Australian Council of Recycling
- Aged Care Industry Association
- Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association
- Queensland Digital Association
- Tourism Accommodation Association
- Australian Automotive Dealer Association
- Multhana Property Services