Labour shortages must be addressed to strengthen Queensland’s growth

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) says today’s Queensland Budget demonstrates the strength of the Queensland economy, but called for greater collaboration between government and retail in resolving the acute labour and skills shortages.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra says as Australia’s largest private sector employer, resolving retail’s labour crisis is critical to job and business sustainability.

“It’s fantastic to see Queensland emerge from the pandemic with such a strong economic report card. However, a retail recovery is critical to an economic recovery, and for many there can be no business growth without immediately addressing labour shortages and supply chain challenges,” Mr Zahra said.

“We would like to see greater measures to address and help ease some of the acute labour and skills shortages – from training and reskilling measures to the use of mature workforce talent. On this front we commend the governments focus on supporting a diverse workforce and in particular schemes to boost the employment prospects of women and people with a disability.

“We look forward to further details on how the skills and training measures will flow through to critically constrained sectors such as retail – including hair and beauty and hospitality,” he said.

“There is also an acute skills shortage within the technology and digital area, which presents another unfortunate growth barrier to retailers looking to leverage the fantastic e-commerce gains from the pandemic.

“Queensland has a powerful track record in business innovation and entrepreneurship, and we would like to see more focused efforts to grow the pipeline of digital and technical talent,” he said.

“With the rising cost of living impacting household budgets, we’re pleased to see $6.8 billion worth concessions for families and businesses. Some of this support will ultimately flow through to the retail economy in the form of retail spending.

“Small business is the life blood of the Queensland economy, and we are pleased to see the state government continue its strong support with cuts to payroll tax along with a number of other small business support initiatives,” he said.

“We also acknowledge the Queensland government’s continued commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion measures, and strongly support the significant investments to boost women’s economic security as well as the continued investment in domestic violence support measures. Retail is an employer of choice for women and these measures are strongly supported.

“Retailers are also looking to governments for greater leadership on climate action to help with their own sustainability initiatives. We would like to see deeper collaboration within sustainability initiatives between highly impacted industry areas such as retail, government and the innovation community and will continue our discussions with the government on that front.

“We have seen clearly through Covid the intrinsic link between health and the health of our economy and we commend the Queensland government on their record investment to strengthen the state’s health system,” Mr Zahra concluded.

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