Data collected in the weeks leading up to the current outbreak of the Omicron variant has highlighted that job vacancies in Australia are at a level that’s higher than ever before.

The recently published figures complied by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), illustrate that the number of vacancies reached fresh highs in November 2021.

Pointing to an overall total of approximately 396,000 vacancies, ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis outlined that the number of job vacancies was now 74 percent higher than it was at the start of the pandemic.

“These figures continue to show the high demand for workers from businesses emerging from lockdowns, together with ongoing labour shortages, particularly in lower paying industries,” says ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis.

Although job vacancies are currently higher than the start of the pandemic across the board, Bjorn Jarvis says that the upward trend was especially pronounced for those in the cultural sector.

ABS data also suggests that vacancies in the arts and recreation are now 271 percent higher than the level recorded in the figures compiled in February 2020.

Accommodation and food services saw a similarly high rise of 211 percent over the period, followed by rental, hiring and real estate services at 165 percent.

“Even in administrative and support services, which saw the smallest increase, job vacancies were 28 per cent higher,” says Bjorn Jarvis.

The ABS has revealed that the record-high level of job vacancies from November 2021 was driven by a 19 percent quarterly increase as lockdown restrictions eased across NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

Bjorn Jarvis noted that this latest increase in job vacancies came off the back of a fall in August that coincided with the Delta lockdowns.

“The decline in August was the first since May 2020, when Australia was in the initial wave of COVID-related restrictions,” says Bjorn Jarvis.

Based on a state-by-state analysis, the figures also revealed that there was a 120 percent increase in job vacancies in Western Australia compared to the period prior to the pandemic. 

The ABS found that the percentage of businesses reporting at least one vacancy grew from 20 percent in August to 21 per cent in November. 

Mr Jarvis noted that this put vacancy levels at only slightly below those of May 2021 but much higher than those of February 2020.

“Many businesses continued to report difficulties in filling their vacancies,” concluded ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis.

Foreign Students Allowed to Work Additional Hours to Ease Australia’s Shortage of Workers

The Australian Government has announced that up to 400,000 foreign students studying across the country will be able to work extra hours under a temporary relaxation of visa rules which has been introduced to ease Australia’s crippling labour shortages, which has occurred as a result of the isolation of thousands of workers due to covid-19.

As the omicron variant continues to cause havoc, Australian fuel stations have warned motorists could suffer a repeat of UK petrol shortages, unless rules on virus-related isolation and foreign student visa holders were loosened to alleviate staff absentee rates of up to 40 percent.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined that foreign students will have their 40-hour-a-fortnight working cap lifted in affected sectors. Isolation rules for close contacts in trucking, aviation and logistics are set to be eased, moving the sectors in line with lighter rules already flagged for food and grocery distribution workers who are asymptomatic and test negative via a rapid antigen test.

Furthermore, somewhere between 20 percent and 50 percent of trucking and logistics workers have been forced to isolate according to government consultations with industry, exacerbating shortages of groceries at supermarkets and other stores.

Coles decided to recently reimpose buying limits on toilet paper and essential medicines such as paracetamol, amid panic buying.

Scott Morrison is encouraging states to remove the requirement for truckies to provide proof of a negative rapid antigen test to cross some state borders.

The Commonwealth is finalising a list of essential services with advice from health officials about which workers should face less strict isolation rules, with healthcare, aged care, childcare and construction under deliberation.

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Post Author: Craig Dangar

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