Besides all of the flag waving by the banks and employer groups to let in more migrants, now is the time to put a hold on that for three years.
For two decades, business people haven’t worried whether they’ll have enough skilled workers, so they haven’t put much effort into training apprentices and trainees.
No where is this truer than in South Australia, where employers have hand balled 90 per cent of training to the state.
We want more local people trained and employed and we want wages to go up if there are labour shortages.
Employers have become used to finding enough skilled labour – or even unskilled people willing to do the lowly paid jobs most Australians won’t do – by using migrant workers. That’s the rationale behind the temporary visa system.
Our immigration program used to be about recruiting factory workers for manufacturers. Now it’s about people on temporary visas allowing employers instant access to skilled workers trained by another country’s taxpayers
One of the reasons productivity and wages are weak for is business improving their profits by cutting costs – particularly wage costs – rather than improving their efficiency.
Lobby groups are already putting pressure on the government to open the temporary-visa floodgates. Bad idea. That will sabotage its strategy for getting wages, consumer spending and the voters’ standard of living going up rather than flat lining.
The structure of the labour force has changed too, as employers’ demand high-skilled labour and far less semi-skilled labour. That has contributed to a rise in inequality.
In the old days, the tendency for wage rises caused by skill shortages in some occupations was helped by the operation of the old centralised wage-fixing system. The move to enterprise bargaining was intended to stop that happening. And it has.
The best way to remove structural impediments in the labour market is to ensure the necessary development of education and training, so people have the skills to get the jobs that are available. Something employers haven’t been greatly interested in.