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Skilled workers, backpackers and international students to rescue Australia’s SME labour market

Eligible visa holders include international students, skilled workers, and working holiday makers.

COSBOA CEO Alexi said “This move will be a big help in addressing the number one issue for small business at the moment: the shortage of workers.

“COSBOA members have been citing the lack of visa workers and international students as a major contributor to this shortage. The problem spans nearly all sectors and includes both skilled and unskilled workers. We’ve heard from representatives of sectors as diverse as agriculture, hospitality, retail, hairdressing, accounting, and software, and they all say the same thing: ‘we can’t find staff.’”

“We hope that letting eligible visa holders into the country will ease some of this pressure and allow small businesses to open at full capacity during the busy Christmas and New Year period.

“We also hope it will ease the workload of small business owners, many of whom are working long hours in their businesses to compensate for the labour shortages.”

Ms Boyd added “However, we note that certain sectors like hair and beauty have been left off the priority list for skilled worker visas, despite having experienced worker shortages for many years. This discrepancy could have been avoided if the government had consulted more broadly with industry associations.”

Ms Boyd cautioned “This announcement doesn’t bring us back to business as usual. Small businesses continue to experience supply chain difficulties in addition to confusion and stress about the lack of clarity in vaccine mandates, two topics we need to see addressed.”

Ms Boyd concluded “Overall, we’re very pleased to see certain visa holders being let back into the country. This announcement should provide small business owners some relief and certainty about the near-term future.”

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