| June 19, 2018
Employment in Murray
It has been increasingly brought to my attention throughout the electorate of Murray by a wide range of businesses that businesses are having difficulty sourcing the skilled workers that they need. This is restricting their businesses in sustaining their current levels of production and also their opportunities to move forward. Many businesses have expressed this inability to take on additional work because they simply have a lack of the skilled and unskilled workers that they need. This is stopping them from attaining further contracts to take their business into another sphere. With our current buoyant economic conditions, this shortage of skilled workers is also retarding the ability of these businesses to grow into different spheres—not just in the exact same areas that they are currently operating within.
Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity of hosting the Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation, Craig Laundy. During the minister's visit, we brought a range of business owners and CEOs together for a roundtable meeting with the minister. Around the table we had engineers, primary producers, meat processors, mechanics and hospitality and aged-care providers represented, and they told the minister of their daily battle to try to find the right labour. The common topic for all of these businesses was how difficult it is to source the labour that they need.
One car dealership proprietor in Shepparton who employs 33 staff and four apprentices told me that, due to his skills shortages, the only way that he can get through his daily business is to try to recruit staff from overseas, and the overseas workers that he has are very highly regarded both within the business and by the customers. This business owner pointed out that the Motor Trades Association of Australia completed an exhaustive survey in August 2017. This survey found that Australia needed an additional 16,000 motor mechanics and at least 2,500 diesel mechanics.
We've also had the example of Shepparton Retirement Villages, the largest regional aged-care provider in Victoria, which employs just over 400 staff. They care for over 700 elderly patients at any one given time over six different residential care facilities and 271 independent living units, and they're all located in greater Shepparton. They struggle to find aged-care workers because it is not seen as an attractive option when compared to nursing or to medicine. They also have trouble with the institutions that are preparing to train these people in aged care. These institutions are trying to get them job ready, making sure that the carers are fully qualified and that they've spent enough time in clinical placements so that they have enough experience. The industry is telling me that it's very difficult to attract workers into the aged-care sector, and that is something that we need to be up-front about.
We've also had an amount of businesses that cannot find welders, fitters and turners and metalworkers. This is not just a matter of not being able to find fruit pickers or dairy hands anymore; this is not just a matter of agriculture. Some of those dirty jobs working in the abattoirs—that shortage has been around for 10 to 15 years, and we've had to get others from outside of Australia to come and do this dirty work. That's what we're finding now, even in a large regional city like Shepparton, and I also find this in many other large regional cities, as to many of the jobs. But the motor mechanic that I recently visited has perfect weather control so that they don't experience the heat or the cold; the temperature is controlled throughout the garage. It's like a laboratory, clear of any grease and oil; most of the members are in fact more like laboratory workers. So we need to put some balance into this issue, we need to take away the politics of this issue and we need to make it as easy as we can. If these people cannot find Australians to work in these areas, we need to make it easier to find people from overseas to take these jobs.