Australian labor market will remain ‘heated’ despite visa delays for skilled workers

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An Home Affairs spokesperson cited a range of factors in the delay, but noted the department was prioritizing visa processing for a range of “sectors critical to Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” 19 and where the applicant or nominee is currently located in Australia”.

“Other circumstances that affect processing times include the completeness of the application, applicants’ responses to requests for additional information, and the time required to perform necessary checks on supporting information,” the official said. spokesperson.

The list of priority skilled occupations for migration, expanded in June, includes auditors, accountants, chefs, cybersecurity specialists and programmers.

The spokesperson said visa processing delays could also be caused by incomplete or insufficiently detailed applications.

The scale of the staff shortage is best exemplified by Deloitte Australia, where growing client demand for the firm’s services and continued high staff turnover mean it now has around 1,500 vacancies.

This is despite the fact that the company, which had around 10,500 associates and employees in the middle of last year, has managed to bring in more foreign workers than many of its rivals – 157 in the past six months. Deloitte currently has another 180 skilled foreign workers in various stages of the visa process.

High turnover, open positions

Tina McCreery, director of human resources at Deloitte. Flavio Brancaleone

Staff turnover at Deloitte peaked at “all-time highs” last August and September, but began to level off and decline by the end of the year, said Tina McCreery, the firm’s human resources director in Australia. .

“We have seen strong upward pressure on compensation in 2021 due to border closures, which has led to increased demand for onshore talent in areas such as cyber, technology and audit,” said she declared.

“We anticipate continued upward pressure on professional services wages through at least the first half of 2022, particularly in these hot skill areas, ahead of an eventual normalization of wage growth rates later in the year. .”

Consulting firms are now all looking for other immediate sources of staff, with PwC launching a marketing campaign in December to attract expatriate Australians from overseas work hotspots such as Britain, the US , Asia and the Middle East to its Australian operations.

Catherine Walsh, Head of People and Culture at PwC Eamon Gallagher

“Our pipeline [of new staff from overseas] over the next six months is also higher than pre-COVID-19 levels, with plans already in place to bring in hundreds of overseas candidates,” said Catherine Walsh, head of people and culture at PwC.

“We are currently running ‘come home’ type campaigns in the UK, US, Singapore and South Africa to attract expats to Australia, and we are also promoting opportunities for locals who want to change .

“Our campaign launched on December 20 and we hope it will help facilitate 250 hires over the next six months.”

Ms Walsh said imported professionals would help the company fill vacancies, but the labor market and demand for experts would remain “heated”.

“Our overseas newcomers will help alleviate skills shortages in our teams, but it remains a hot market in Australia and these numbers are not enough to offset the significant demand for our people and their skills in finance, risk and technology.

Dorothy Hisgrove, National Managing Partner of People and Inclusion at KPMG. Eddie Jim

“This demand has increased dramatically over the past five to ten years and shows no signs of slowing down,” she said.

The big four rival EY has already imported more than 100 foreign professionals since July, with dozens expected to start in the coming months, said Elisa Colak, the firm’s head of talent.

“Additionally, we have over 120 international applicants awaiting visa approval to join us in the near future, and we expect this volume to continue to increase under current government requirements,” he said. she declared.

KPMG has hired nearly 100 overseas candidates since October, said Dorothy Hisgrove, the firm’s national managing partner for people and inclusion.

“Although it is too early to fully feel the impact of more open borders, I can cite areas such as auditing, where we have received many applications from foreign candidates since October 2021,” she said. declared.

“As an illustration, since the end of last year, nearly 100 international candidates have accepted positions within Audit from Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, India, Pakistan and the Gulf States.

“It gives us access to a cohort of highly skilled professionals who will have their feet on the ground well before the start of the year-end high season.”

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