Employers in regional areas across Australia have revealed they are struggling to find workers – as bustling cities such as Sydney and Melbourne continue to grow.
Business owners and farmers have been left to rely on migrants to do unwanted jobs, as the number of job vacancies across regional Australia reaches 46,000.
In the town of Warrnambool, Victoria, more than three hours from Melbourne, there are currently about 1,000 positions waiting to be filled, according to an ABC report.
Dairy Farmer Brian Dickson told the ABC he fears the worker shortage would lead to the end of the dairy farming industry in Australia.
Turnover is high at farms in Western Victoria despite the $24/h wage.
In 2018, it was reported a Queensland dairy farm was struggling to attract local interest in a job that paid $50,000 and came with free accommodation.
Jobs in fruit and vegetable picking were also are unpopular among Australian workers, as well as roles in meat processing.
Restaurants have also had to rely on foreign workers, who are said to be more stable.
Research showed chef positions and restaurant managers were ‘very difficult’ to recruit.
Bakeries also reported difficulty hiring because workers are not keen on bakers’ hours, which often means starting at 1am.
In 2013, Traffic management firm Australian Retro revealed 85 per cent of traffic controllers were Irish women.
Far North Queensland currently has more than 3,700 vacancies, including 800 automotive trade jobs, according to the ABC.
Larry Napoli, who runs a collision repair centre in South Australia, says most workers don’t ‘stick it out’ because it’s hard work.
In the Riverina region in New South Wales, most of the 1,000 job vacancies are in the medical field.
Mayor Tony Herbert told the station that figure is expected to grow to 7,000 over the next three or four years.
The town of 35,000 people does have a low cost of living compared to larger, metropolitan areas, but that’s apparently not enough to bring in newcomers.
‘From a liveability perspective, we’ve got an average three, four-bedroom home about $320,000, compared to Melbourne, being up close to $900,000 for a house’, Mayor Herbert said.
Meanwhile in Far North Queensland, there are more than 3,700 open automotive trade positions, and 1,000 vacancies, mostly in the medical field, in the Riverina in NSW.
The issue appears to be brought on by Australians favouring city life as well as high turnover rates in regional areas where workers can’t deal with the tough work.
‘A lot of them don’t really stick it out because it’s hard work and it’s very complex’, Larry Napoli, who runs Carisbrook Collision Repair Centre in north of Adelaide, told the ABC.
Dairy Farmer Brian Dickson said he fears the worker shortage would lead to the end of the dairy farming industry in Australia.
Although the job pays $24 an hour, it is difficult to find people willing to work the hours.
‘It will be the thing that will finish dairy in this country, will be the labour,’ he told the ABC.
The Federal government in turn has stepped into mitigate the issue by allowing farmers to seek out foreign workers.
Migrants are even offered permanent residency if they are willing to work in the region for three years.
Laws also require them to be paid more at least $53,900, which employers are allowed to lower by ten per cent.
Napoli said foreigners have actually proven to be harder workers because they are eager to come to work and are ‘grateful’ for having a job.
But the new plan has angered unions who say the low-skilled jobs are being offered to migrants instead of young Australians.
Michele O’Neil from the ACTU told the ABC the government should instead make incentives for people to work in these areas, and invest in the training for high skilled jobs.