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Is The Skills Pandemic Ending?

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Australia’s economic success as a country before the pandemic was heavily reliant on skilled worker migration. More than 100,000 skilled migrants arrived on our shores annually, half of whom were permanent arrivals. Overseas migration accounted for 57% of Australia’s population growth, and more than 20% of the increase in the economy’s productive capacity, estimated at $172b, for two decades.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to all of that.

Australia’s international borders slammed shut and a staggering 350,000 skilled migrant visa holders left Australia in the first 12 months alone. Many sectors who were reliant on importing talent were left exposed including agribusiness, hospitality, technology and cleaning services. While not as abrupt, we also felt the effects in engineering and building services. Specialised talent opted to return home overseas or take up attractive packages in countries with open borders.

Some say we experienced a Skills Pandemic alongside the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now we’re celebrating the opening of international borders (WOO-FECKIN-HOO!!!) and many employers are gearing up to attract international talent. According to research released recently, 71% of Australian employers are planning to hire international talent on a permanent basis. Of those, 61% are planning to hire global talent on a contract basis. The tech and financial sectors are most prominent, with 82% planning to hire IT talent and 68% looking to hire finance specialists from overseas.

Australian companies looking to hire need to act quickly and face stiff competition, as other local company leaders prepare attractive initiatives to lure top talent. Strong offshoring and relocation offers are being prepared, as are increases in starting pay, greater paid leave, job title upgrades, relaxing of job criteria, as well as professional development possibilities and career pathway opportunities.

Businesses looking to hire overseas talent will need to match (and ideally exceed) the standards of the markets they’re recruiting from, or be beaten out by local competition - potentially with smoother moves and sexy accents. When advertising roles, leaders need to remember that candidates are not only evaluating the job against their career path, but also whether it is worth disrupting their life for. A compelling employer brand proposition is a vital component of candidate decision making, even more so than sexy accents…

There is no doubt the current skills shortages have placed pressure on Australian companies to consider recruiting from overseas, but businesses also have an alternative to seeking out overseas talent. Strengthening internal talent pipelines, embracing upskilling and being able to attract and retain local skilled talent can help to develop a healthy workforce less affected by border closures, economic changes or… dare we say it… pandemics.

Whichever route you choose to take for your business among the skills shortage, we have extensive experience across Australia and Europe within building services, engineering and IT sectors. We’ve helped our clients ride the ups and downs of the skills pandemic and ensured their ability to recruit and retain top talent didn’t suffer. If you’re curious how we can help your business, get in touch today.

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