Queensland employers struggle to 'attract and sustain' skilled workers

CCIQ says attraction and retention of skilled workers 'must be a priority'

Queensland employers struggle to 'attract and sustain' skilled workers

Attraction and retention of skilled workers were shown as one of the biggest challenges among Queensland businesses, based on a new Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland (CCIQ) data, strengthening the need for an urgent discussion on upskilling in industries in the coming state budget.

The CCIQ’s data showed that more than half of Queensland businesses face significant constraints in retaining and recruiting suitably qualified workers. Meanwhile, one of three businesses said they would closely monitor the upcoming State budget for workforce support incentives and investment.

Labor costs

Cherie Josephson, CCIQ policy and advocacy manager, said labor costs of several businesses were recorded high during the March 2022 quarter. This result demonstrated that staff and skill shortages pressure small and medium enterprises across Queensland.

The CCIQ March 2022 report said that the constraint on shortage was “associated with lag effects from both international and interstate border closures but also greater economic activity with businesses struggling to meet new demand and offering higher wages to retain and attract employees.”

Josephson also said that while the chamber is already seeing wage bills increase, the employment levels remain weak. Businesses are currently paying higher wages in an already competitive labour market.

“The state government must prioritise key investments and policies that fast track the advancement of our economy, encourage industry diversification and develop future workforces,” she said.

Call for workforce support

Following the challenge of recruiting and retaining qualified workers, the CCIQ called for investment to incentivize upskilling and retraining for traditional and emerging industries, improved funding arrangements, and measures to reinvigorate the regional workforce.

“This budget should future-proof businesses, remove hurdles and enable our skilled workforces to provide Queensland with a competitive advantage,” Josephson said.

“A tight labour market can really limit businesses’ ability to grow and be competitive, so we’re looking to the upcoming state budget for commitments to relieve this pressure and ensure businesses are ahead of the game,” she added.

Based on the CCIQ State Budget submission, among the top five industries wanting to see investment in upskilling and retraining in the upcoming state budget were:

  • information media and telecommunications,
  • arts and recreation services,
  • accommodation and hospitality,
  • administrative and support services, and
  • other services (personal services, repair services, etc.)

Specific recommendations on the upcoming state budget

Aside from the call to support industries’ workforce, the CCIQ State Budget Submission also recommended simplifying the migration process and targeting incentives for skilled and seasonal workers to relocate to areas with skills shortages.

“We know businesses in regional Queensland are also facing impacts from skilled labour shortages, so we’re calling for incentives to attract skilled workers to regional areas and also simplified migration schemes to help address those challenges outside the larger cities,” Josephson said.

CCIQ also listed support for education and training programs focused on sustainability as crucial elements to help industries in Queensland.

“Additionally, targeted and efficient processes for businesses to access education and training programs, especially for sustainability skills, will support upskilling and help connect businesses with skilled workers,” Josephson said.

“The extension of apprenticeship and trainee subsidies with a focus on future skills needs will help to see this happen,” she added.  

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