Australia is reviewing its entire visa and immigration system to rapidly expand its workforce.
The review is due out in February.
Since closing its borders during COVID, the country has struggled to find enough skilled and unskilled workers to fill jobs and keep the economy running.
After Canada, Australia The world’s richest countries have the second-highest skills shortage.
Below the Sydney Opera House, Solotel, a waterfront bar and restaurant, is crying out for staff.
Its chief executive, Elliot Solomon, said they urgently need cooks, wait staff, bartenders and baristas.
“We have two fine dining restaurants and we can’t open on certain days because we don’t have enough staff,” he said.
Salaries increase by 25 per cent a year and servers average £20 an hour, Mr Solomon said.
Work incentives include a £500 sign-on bonus and half-price food and drinks for employees and their friends.
Other restaurants are sending foreign staff into the country and providing accommodation.
In March, British backpacker Chloe Ankers moved from Manchester to Cairns and now Sydney.
“There are jobs up and down the coast,” he said.
“The pay is amazing, a big difference compared to back home.”
With most foreigners preferring the beach to the bush, the lack of staff in regional and remote areas is even worse.
Before COVID, 80% of seasonal farm labor came from backpackers.
Three hundred miles west of Sydney in Leyton, tons of oranges are left to rot because there aren’t enough people to pick them.
Orchard owner Frank Mercury said it was “devastating,” with his business losing 140,000 pounds of fruit.
Australians are not filling those jobs – the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 48 years.
This is an employee market. A National Australia Bank survey found that one in three businesses wanted to hire more people.
A total of nearly half a million workers are needed in nearly every industry, from hospitality and tourism to construction, technology, agriculture and mining, as well as teachers and nurses.
There is also a serious shortage of traders. Mechanics, builders and plumbers – the list goes on.
Car workshop owner Cameron Virtue is under pressure and can’t grow his business. Without enough technicians, he is working 70 hours a week.
He said: “I think we need to look overseas more, I generally find the techs trained in the UK are much better than what we have here.”
Mechanic Joel Swain has no regrets about swapping North Yorkshire for Sydney summers.
He recently returned home to visit family and friends and says it was the “final nail in the coffin”.
“You can see that people are not so happy. [in the UK] And more and more of my friends are migrating, traveling to Asia and coming to Australia for that life,” he said.
Australia believes it doesn’t need to sell the country to immigrants, as it bills itself as the “lifestyle” capital of the world.
However, it had one of the world’s most severe COVID border closures during the pandemic and the previous government told foreign students and backpackers to “go home”.
Now they face exorbitant international airfares to travel here.
So when it comes to migration, Australia has plenty of challenges and ground to cover.
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