Australia jobs: ‘The staffing issue is impossible’

Australia jobs: 'The staffing issue is impossible'
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Wanted: goat farmers, acupuncturists and zookeepers.

Pandemic border closures have further exacerbated a serious skills shortage that has, for years, held Australia’s economy back.

Many foreign workers swiftly returned to their home nations when parts of the Australian economy retreated into a long and uncertain Covid hibernation.

Now, blinking in the spring sunshine, Sydneysiders, Melburnians and Canberrans are now emerging from their Covid caves, and are eager to spend, however, many businesses are facing a chronic labour crunch – they can’t find enough staff to keep their businesses running.

“The staffing issue is impossible,” says celebrity chef, Neil Perry, at his new restaurant ‘Margaret’ in Sydney’s upmarket Double Bay district.

“Right now, this is the worst I have ever seen the labour shortage in the industry, ever, by some considerable amount.”

Foreign staff have underpinned Australia’s hospitality sector for decades, but coronavirus lockdowns forced many waiters, cooks, pastry chefs, fishmongers and butchers to return to their home countries.

Perry wants them back, and tells the BBC that politicians in Canberra need to enact a bold, nation-building plan.

“The government have to look at it like it is the end of World War Two and Australia is going to be built on the quality of immigration we bring in,” he adds.

“The (hospitality) industry is trying to come back but there is a real handbrake to it, and it is the human labour side of it that is an issue.”

One company is so desperate for staff that it’s offering to pay for flights to Australia for overseas recruits and, if needed, hotel quarantine fees, as well as a fortnight’s rent plus a $1000 food and drink voucher.

It might seem too good to be true, but there’s more. For UK citizens, Australian Venue Co, one of the country’s largest pub groups, will also help with visa costs.