Providing SA skills shortage solutions with innovative DAMAs

13.05.2019
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The State’s latest skilled migration pathways will breathe new life into South Australia, particularly in the regions, by enabling employers to grow their businesses now by finding the skilled workers they need.

Minister for Innovation and Skills, David Pisoni, said the signing of two Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) in April, delivers more flexibility for businesses to deal with immediate skills shortages whilst they train their local staff to grow their businesses.

“The Marshall Liberal Government has been open and transparent about its commitment to support the skills needs of South Australian employers and growing the local economy,” he said.

“Initiatives like the $203 million investment in Skilling South Australia and the DAMAs are just two of the ways in which we’re solving a skills problem that the previous Labor Government failed to address.”

Minister Pisoni said the Marshall Liberal Government is now dealing with five years of cuts to skills training and TAFE, inherited from Labor, that includes:

· A massive decline in numbers and funding for vocational education and training;

· Ignoring regional communities and their workforce skills shortages;

· Failing to address regional growth and exports.

“Whilst Skilling South Australia will equip local workers with the skills they need for the jobs of the future, in the short-term certain sectors and regions of the state are experiencing skills shortages which are holding back economic growth, exports and employment.

“The DAMAs are designed to address these existing skills shortages,” Minister Pisoni said.

“The Adelaide City Deal DAMA will give employers the ability to source highly-skilled workers in the Defence, space, advanced manufacturing and technology industries, supporting the innovation hub – Future Industries eXchange for Entrepreneurs (FIXE) – at Lot Fourteen.

“The Regional DAMA will enable employers in industries such as agribusiness, food processing and hospitality and tourism in regional South Australia, to sponsor skilled workers for jobs they have been unable to fill through the existing workforce.

“For example, two-thirds of Australian meat processors, including those in regional South Australia, are running under capacity due to serious local skills shortages.”

The DAMAs prohibit wages being paid under the Australian award and must comply fully with the Fair Work Act.  They also include safeguards regarding the conduct of employers and conditions for employees.

Minister Pisoni said in instances where employers have exhausted all avenues to recruit local staff, skilled workers will be sourced to fill those shortages without undercutting wages or paying workers below the Award.

“The DAMAs ensure employers must exhaust all attempts to recruit Australian citizens and permanent residents as a first priority,” he said.

“Employers must provide evidence that they’ve advertised vacancies but have been unable to fill these positions with local workers and that the role can’t be done by an apprentice or trainee.”

Immigration SA will be the Designated Area Representative with a key compliance and enforcement role.

Businesses accessing a DAMA must provide evidence of how they’ll maintain a fair work environment, including renumerating workers appropriately and employment conditions that comply with Australian laws.

Minister Pisoni said employment numbers are capped in the first year at 750 for the Regional DAMA and 300 for the Adelaide City Deal DAMA.

“By filling regional and specialised city skills gaps, the Marshall Liberal Government’s new DAMAs will allow South Australian businesses to expand and employ more South Australians,” he said.

South Australia’s Chief Entrepreneur, Jim Whalley, said the Adelaide City Deal DAMA is exactly what employers in high-tech businesses need, particularly those attracted to Lot Fourteen.

“They will grow faster when they have the right people with the right skills,” he said

“Additionally, the DAMAs will help us attract the global experts we need to grow, mentor and skill the next generation.”

Chief Executive Officer of Migration Solutions, Mark Glazbrook, said especially in South Australia, regional wages for comparable occupations are often lower, than in bigger capital cities such as Melbourne or Sydney. 

“A cook in Sydney, for example, will be paid more than a cook in Mount Gambier due to differences in the cost of living”, he said.

“The position is the same and requires the same or similar skills, qualifications and experience, however employers in regional Australia are often unable to access or use the temporary migration program to address the unmet demand for labour, as many of the award wages paid in a regional area fall below the usual DAMA wage threshold.”

The program commences on 1 July 2019, with full details of the two DAMAs now available on the Immigration SA website.

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