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Canberra Today 8°/10° | Monday, July 4, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Business Chamber calls for urgent action on workforce ‘crisis’

THE Canberra Business Chamber is calling for urgent action from the ACT government to address a skills and labour shortage that is causing a “crisis” for local business.

Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt.

In a submission to the ACT 2022-23 Budget, the chamber has called on the government to better engage with and understand the business community which they say is being threatened by workforce shortages, supply chain pressures and inflation among other issues.

A survey conducted by the chamber found 75 per cent of not for profit organisations and businesses were seeking to employ staff, but almost universally faced difficulties in accessing skilled people.

Chamber CEO Graham Catt says shortage is putting a handbrake on the economic growth of the territory.

“The business community understands that there are no easy fixes for this complex problem. But they do want to know that the government understands the impact and the scale of the problem,” said Mr Catt.

“They want to see investment and strategies to help our private sector compete in the national war to attract and retain workers.”

The submission says that developing solutions, including a much-needed long term skills and workforce plan, requires more meaningful data about the ACT’s small to medium-sized businesses.

It asks the government to work with industry stakeholders to create new models for engagement, and to increase the bureaucracy’s knowledge and understanding of the business community.

“Local small businesses consistently tell us about the disjointed and contradictory approaches they experience dealing with different areas of the ACT government,” said Mr Catt.

“This acts as a disincentive to business growth and takes up time that could be better spent operating and growing an enterprise.”

Mr Catt says there are about 31,500 businesses in the ACT that provide almost two thirds of Canberra’s jobs, 97 per cent of which are small businesses.

The submission provides the government with recommendations of how improvements can be made, including better data to support policy making, the development of disaster support packages in advance and small business mentoring programs.

“The business community stands ready to work with the government to address the challenges ahead and capitalise on opportunities,” said Mr Catt.

“They want a genuine commitment to joint problem-solving, supported by effective structures for engagement and consultation.”

Read the full submission here.

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