Australia’s largest company can’t find workers.
Specifically, skilled migrant workers.
That’s the revelation from the chief financial officer of mining giant BHP – a bombshell he dropped on business leaders at a forum in Melbourne this week.
David Lamont says the situation is not unique to BHP. It’s an Australia-wide problem, but it’s not exclusive to Australia. And the flow on effect impacts everything.
Mr. Lamont spoke of the desire for “certainty” in a world where, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, everything is uncertain.
“We have to plan not just for tomorrow, but for five, 10, 15, 20 years,” he said. the australian Strategic Business Forum last week.
He said one of the main issues hampering Australia’s rebound is labor shortages. For large companies, it is precisely a shortage of migrant workers caused by two years of border closures.
While the borders are open again, the workers have not returned…nowhere, it seems.
“I’d like to find that black hole where everyone is running because we’re struggling to find them,” Lamont said.
“The biggest problem for us is not so much the cost of labor as the shortage of labor.
“Previously we could rely on immigration to help here in Australia to offset some of our wage needs, whether it was a cleaner on a building site or our skilled staff that we need to run the business. .
“So labor productivity is a key objective, but skills and the skills shortage is also the major issue for us, if you look not only directly into our own operations, but into the communities in which we operate.”
Asked where the workers went, Mr Lamont said he had not seen them anywhere on overseas trips in recent months.
“That’s a very good question because I don’t know the answer because [I’ve] I recently traveled around the world and I don’t know of any economy I’m going to – everyone is struggling to find work,” he said.
“A fair [bit] of this, I think, is probably [because of Covid-19]but people have [also] redesigned how they actually want to work.
“We have a lot more part-timers in the economy, but I certainly think immigration has played a role in various parts of the world.”
The lack of skilled migrant workers coming to Australia has forced Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan to seek help from the federal government.
His government launched a registry this week to connect businesses in WA with overseas workers.
The Western Australia reports that unprecedented labor shortages are “crippling growth in all sectors as well as the delivery of basic services in areas such as health and care for the elderly”.
But industry executives say Australia is no longer a top destination for workers.
Fiona Webb, national immigration manager at Deloitte, said skilled migrants did not want to work in Australia because it had gained a bad reputation overseas.
She said they took jobs in different parts of the world because they were wary of Australia’s border situation and because they couldn’t wait for visa approvals.
“The slowness of our [visa] the treatment, coupled with uncertainty about the pathway to permanent residency in Australia, means employers are losing good candidates to other markets,” she said. The Australian.
“These candidates often have offers on the table from two or three countries.”
The problem is compounded, she said, as Australia sees its own skilled labor moving out.
“Add to that we are about to get a flow out of Australia as the 18 to 25 year old group want to go overseas, now they have the opportunity to do that,” she said .