Travellers facing delays this Easter are at the epicentre of inevitable labour shortages caused by two years of economic shutdown, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“As the economy comes out of hibernation and roars back to life, new activity is exposing Australians to massive labour and skills shortages.
“We urge customers to be patient over the long weekend as businesses and workers ramp up to meet demand.
“Despite national recruitment efforts, the workforce at some airports is 40 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels and small businesses in our cities and regions are crying out for workers.
“Customers are facing the perfect storm of critical labour shortages, record low unemployment and isolation rules that keep thousands of people who aren’t sick at home.
“Labour shortages won’t just mean customers wait longer this Easter break, they risk putting a handbrake on our national economic recovery.
“You can’t run a hotel or screen travellers at an airport without staff but you also can’t employ hundreds of Australians on a construction job if you don’t have a surveyor.
“To lock in our recovery and to make sure Australians get the service they expect, we have to start managing labour supply challenges now.
“Encouraging workers to come to Australia will be critical, so we’ll need to promote ourselves to the world and provide new arrivals with a pathway to permanence. We are in a fierce global competition to attract the most skilled people, we can’t afford to be complacent.
“National Cabinet must also finally put in place clear, nationally consistent and workable isolation rules for COVID close contacts. Workers who don’t have COVID-19 should be allowed to work.
“And we will need both targeted migration to fill critical shortages at every skill level right now, and a skills system that lets workers easily and quickly train with the skills employers need for the longer term.”