Written on the 24 October 2011


OVER the next five years, 43 per cent of businesses expect to become more reliant on 457 visa holders to fill skilled vacancies as baby boomer retirement leaves a skills gap to be filled by foreign workers.

Australian companies are looking for creative ways to grow and sustain their workforce, according to a skilled migration survey.

The KPMG survey finds that Australia’s skills shortage problem has increased by about 10 per cent with nearly 40 per cent of respondents to the survey increasing their skilled migration intake during the past 12 months.

Head of KPMG’s migration practice Karen Waller, says employers are continuing to recruit offshore to satisfy their skills need.

“Even as economic activity is slowing across some sectors, the accelerating retirement of the baby boomer generation is leaving large skill and experience gaps in the Australian workforce,” she says.

“It is a trend that will intensify over the coming decade as the first of the baby boomers reached age 65 this year. More than 28 per cent of respondent businesses reported that they were already feeling the effects of the departure of baby boomers from the workforce.

“The message for businesses is they should be planning now for the future recruitment of staff because it may not be as easy as it used to be.”

Waller says the spread of shortages to more semi-skilled professions including carers and truck drivers is surprising.

“These are two occupations that will be impacted with the exit of baby boomers in a big way. Nearly a third of respondents said the workers they are looking for are not listed in the Government approved occupation list for 457 visas and therefore the Government should be keeping a close eye on this over the next 12 months,” she says.

According to the survey, almost 80 per cent of respondents had recruited 20 or fewer workers in the past year using 457 visas, suggesting most organisations continued to use the scheme selectively.

“This selective use of the scheme could be because there may be a perception that it’s too difficult for the average business to use. However, our survey found a continued support for the 457 visa scheme with more than 80 percent saying the process had remained consistent and easy to navigate so the perception may not be the reality,” says Waller.

“Forty-three per cent of respondents expected to become more reliant on 457 visa holders to fill skilled vacancies over the next 5 years - an increase of 11 per cent from 2010.

“The challenge now for government is to keep up to date with a moving and unsettled global economy. This will ensure that the 457 visa program will continue to meet and support Australia’s skilled migration requirements.”






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