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Australia overhauls visa system as it grapples with worker shortages after strict COVID rules | World News

Australia is overhauling its entire visa and immigration system in an all-out effort to rapidly grow its workforce.

The review should be out in February.

Since closing its borders during COVID, the country has struggled to find enough skilled and unskilled workers to fill jobs and jumpstart the economy.

After Canada, Australia has the second largest skills shortage among the richest countries in the world.

Below the Sydney Opera House, the waterfront bar and restaurant is crying out for staff.

Solotel CEO Elliot Solomon says they urgently need chefs, waiters, bartenders and baristas.

“We have a few fine restaurants and we can’t open on certain days because we don’t have enough staff,” he said.

Mr. Solomon said wages have risen by 25% in a year and that servers cost around £20 an hour on average.

Work incentives include £500 sign-on bonuses and half-price food and drink for employees and their friends.

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Elliot Solomon, chief executive of Solotel, said it was becoming increasingly difficult to get restaurant staff

Other restaurants bring foreign staff into the country and provide accommodation.

In March, British backpacker Chloe Ankers moved from Manchester to Cairns, and now to Sydney.

“There are fast places all along the coast,” she said.

“The pay is amazing, compared to back home there is a big difference.”

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British backpacker Chloe Ankers said there is “work everywhere” in Australia.

Given that most foreigners prefer the beach to the bush, staff shortages are even greater in regional and remote areas.

Before COVID, 80% of seasonal farm work came from backpackers.

Three hundred miles west of Sydney in Lytton, tons of oranges are left to rot because there aren’t enough people to pick them.

Orchard owner Frank Mercury said it was “devastating” as his business lost 140,000 pounds of fruit.

Australians are not filling these jobs – the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 48 years.

It’s an employee market. National Australia Bank research has shown that one in three businesses want to hire more people.

In total, almost half a million workers are needed in almost all industries, from hospitality and tourism to construction, technology, agriculture and mining, as well as teachers and nurses.

There is also a great lack of traders; mechanics, builders and plumbers – the list goes on.

Auto repair shop owner Cameron Virtue is under pressure and unable to expand his business. Without enough technicians, he works a 70-hour week.

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Auto repair shop owner Cameron Virtue

He said: “I think we need to look more overseas, I generally think UK trained technicians are far better than what we have here.

Mechanic Joel Swain has no regrets about swapping North Yorkshire for a summer in Sydney.

He recently returned home to see family and friends and says it was “the final nail in the coffin”.

“You see people are not so happy [in the UK] and more and more of my friends are migrating, traveling around Asia and coming to Australia for this life,” he said.

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Mechanic Joel Swain came to Australia from North Yorkshire

Australia believes it does not need to sell the country to migrants, as it considers itself the “lifestyle” capital of the world.

However, during the pandemic it had one of the strictest border closures in the world due to COVID, and the previous government told foreign students and travelers to go home.

They are now faced with high international airfares to travel here.

So when it comes to migration, Australia has a lot of challenges and ground to catch up on.

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