What's stoking Australia's workforce crisis in retail space? - Kalkine Media

July 09, 2022 11:00 AM AEST | By Toshiva Jain
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  • Australia has been witnessing a consistent rise in labour shortage for the past three months.
  • The Australian Retailers Association has urged the government to intervene to help the retail sector runners recover from the current crisis.
  • It is high time that the central and state authorities intervene to help the retail industry overcome the labour and skill crisis.

Australia’s retail sector is going through another epidemic: labour and skills shortage. The COVID-19 pandemic and other geopolitical and economic issues such as the Russia-Ukraine war and supply chain woes have seriously impacted the domestic retail sector. Now, the economy has embarked on a journey to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the retail industry is suffering from massive losses related to labour and skills.

How staff shortages are crippling the retail industry

Recently, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that the Australian retail sector is experiencing major economic losses because of labour and skill shortages. In fact, some are now on the brink of shutting down their businesses.

The institutes have reported that the vacancies are at a record high. Additionally, retailers across the country have highlighted significant issues in hiring for the past three months consecutively.

According to a survey conducted by the ARA, labour shortage has been consistently on the rise in the past three months. Small retailers have been hit really hard and are on the brink of closing their businesses.

The government data indicates there were 40,300 job vacancies in retail trade in the month of May 2022. This is up 38.5% compared to February 2022.

So, what is stoking Australia’s workforce crisis in the retail space?

One of the primary reasons for the unavailability of an optimum labour force is the aftermath effect of the pandemic. Retailers have also reported that the international immigrants employed in the retail sector before the pandemic are now mostly unwilling to return to Australia to join the retail sector.

Australian retail sector labour shortage

Source:  © Piscine26 | Megapixl.com

Additionally, international students, who also cover a significant section of the labour workforce in the retail sector, are now being admitted to universities in other countries. Thus, the loss of immigrants plays a crucial role in the labour and skill crisis across the domestic retail sector. Therefore, the association has suggested the government to reduce the red tape, so immigration can become easy.

The Australian Retailers Association has urged the government to intervene to help the retail sector recover from the current crisis. One of the suggestions made by the association is to relax the income cut for pension earners so that they can join the retail sector again.

The above-mentioned suggestion can be helpful in two ways: by supplementing income to pension workers and filling the workforce gap in the retail sector. It is high time that the central and the state authorities intervene to help the retail industry overcome the labour and skill crisis.


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