Business Council calls on Government to relax migration rules to attract workers

The record low unemployment means that removing the economic barriers to economic growth more important than ever, according to Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott.

“We should be proud that more Australians than ever are working, earning, and achieving their full potential,” Westacott said. “But the flip side of record low unemployment is an economy at risk of hitting capacity limits because Australia can’t get the workers it needs.

“Our urgent priority must be to manage chronic workforce shortages across every skill level and sector. A lack of workers puts a handbrake on new projects and stifles investment,” Westacott added. “You can’t employ hundreds of Australians on a construction job if you don’t have a surveyor and you can’t tender for a new project without engineers or labourers.”

Westacott urged the Fedaral Government to allow targeted migration to fill critical shortages at every skill level, and to initiate a skills system that lets workers and quickly equip themselves with the skills employers need for long-term economic growth.

“That means keeping safeguards in place but speeding up visa processing. We need to get on with the task of removing the friction that makes it difficult for prospective migrants to get to Australia,” Westacott said. “And we should consider boosting access to four-year visas to make uprooting families and moving across the globe more attractive.

“Businesses are ready to work with government, unions and the community to manage this immediate crisis and get the settings right for the future at the upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit,” Westacott concluded.