While the hospitality industry is working through its recovery from two years of lockdowns, capacity restrictions and changes in consumer behaviour, employment opportunities have been slow to fill and are now causing huge problems.

From putting extra pressure on supply chains to venues not having enough staff to operate at full-speed the labour shortages in Australia are causing major issues.

Earlier this week Brendan O’Connor, the Minister for Skills and Training spoke to Sky News AM Agenda about how the Government is working through a range of plans to help skill-up Australian workers and also enable more skilled migrants to enter the country.

“I obviously want to make sure we invest in our own workforce, invest in the skills that are in demand,” the Minister said. “We need a modern, skilled workforce. We need to invest in our own workforce, we need to supplement that with the skilled migration streams. We’ve always done that, and we’ll always do that to attend to the economy, and make sure people are able to afford things because prices are not sky rocketing.

“This is about investing in Australian workers in areas of demand so that they have more secure employment, and that businesses have the skills they need. It’s also about targeting areas of acute demand, which we need to fill with skilled migrants.

“We need to make sure, for example, there are people that are not in the labour market right now that want to get a job, and we need to invest in them. We need to provide them with skills so they can work in areas of demand here and now. There are many Australians looking for work and we need to provide the skills requisite to fill those areas of demand.

“The OECD has indicated that Australia has the second highest labour shortage in the developed world, so we’ve got a big job ahead of us. But we’ll be working together with employers and unions, state and territory governments and others to make sure we get this right.”

A number of commentators have pointed to a backlog of current visa approvals, which means skilled migrants who want to come and work in Australia are not able to do so. The Minister said the unclogging of this process is a priority.

“There’s a focus right now on accelerating the processing of applications that have been frozen in time,” he said. “We’re assessing who comes into this country and whether they have the requisite skills. We have to do it properly. So we are dedicating more resources to make sure we free up that, accelerate the process, so that we can supply those areas where there are acute shortages

“We need to dedicate our efforts to areas of acute shortage and we are looking to do that. But over the medium to longer term too we need to invest taxpayers money in education and training so that Australian workers are acquiring the skills in areas of demand now and into the future. So it is not just one job. There’s multiple things that we need to do here and we’ll be attending to that.”

This story was originally published by The Shout.