It’s pleasing to see continued growth in our trading figures for May, however many challenges remain as we enter the new financial year. The retail industry continues to be hamstrung by labour and skills shortages with the results of our most recent members survey highlighting the dire situation many of you are facing. The majority of those surveyed say the staffing challenge has worsened in the past three months and that it’s becoming much harder to find and recruit new team members.
We’re continuing discussions with the federal government around a number of potential measures. They include allowing employment income to be exempt from the age pension income test, which would mobilise more mature age workers and pensioners to help fill positions, as well as reducing immigration red tape to allow more skilled foreign workers, and international students, into the country. The shortages extend from frontline roles to more specialist positions in data and digital, with regional areas also impacted. This is an ongoing headache for the sector, and is addition to rising costs in leasing, fuel and energy and supply chains many are combating.
We’ll continue our advocacy to ensure the labour and skills crisis doesn’t deteriorate further and that businesses can access a bigger talent pool to help address the acute shortages they’re experiencing.
Finally, I want to acknowledge all of our members that are participating in First Responders Day tomorrow. This is now a permanent fixture on Australia’s retail calendar and is our small way of saying thanks to the men and women who sacrifice so much to keep us safe. I know our First Responders are grateful for the support of Australia’s retail community.