Jemma Tribe has been re-elected Shoalhaven Business Chamber president as the organisation moves from two years of supporting businesses through lockdowns to helping operators make the most of improved economic conditions.
But she said as businesses looked forward to a busy summer they were again facing the workforce shortages that were evident before the second lockdown.
"It's reared its ugly head again as things open up, and in a big way too because we're seeing lots of tourism, hospitality and retail businesses picking up again as visitors come back to our area, and that's really highlighting these workforce shortages," Mrs Tribe said.
She said many factors contributed to the shortage, including TAFE colleges having trouble training staff during the past couple of years during COVID restrictions, and restrictions on workers entering Australia from overseas.
Even the Shoalhaven's housing shortage was playing a role.
"People are looking for employees across all sectors and we're finding that it's difficult to attract staff, and if they do manage to attract them from outside the area, finding housing for them is the next challenge so then keeping them here for those job opportunities is also very difficult," Mrs Tribe said.
"It's something that we're seeing right across the board at the moment."
While many industries were struggling to find staff, Mrs Tribe said among the hardest hit was hospitality which was searching for chefs and pastry chefs.
But she said initiatives were being formulated to help attract more workers to short-staffed businesses and industries.
Mrs Tribe said working to attract workers to the region and local businesses was a big change from the chamber's work of the past couple of years, which had mainly been focused on helping operators survive the pandemic.
"The Business Chamber has been really busy over the past two years focusing on business recovery and digital optimisation, so really helping businesses makes the most of grants and opportunities, advocating to local, state and federal members about businesses' needs, particularly around the burdens and challenges of COVID compliance, insurance for businesses in bushfire-impacted regions, and workforce shortages as well," she said.
"All of these issues we've been taking forward on behalf of our members."
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