Australia’s workforce has always relied heavily on skilled migration, particularly in the Energy, Mining and Property (EMP) sector: in some specialised / specialist roles, highly skilled migrant talent accounts for approximately two thirds of the workforce. However, despite net overseas migration returning to pre-pandemic levels, the EMP sector has continued to face significant talent attraction challenges.

Immigration, diversity and inclusion: A new norm for human capital explores how Australian immigration policy reforms and workplace diversity initiatives can help EMP organisations close vital skills gaps by building an inclusive culture.

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In 2020 and 2021, COVID-19 border closures caused a sharp drop in net overseas migration to Australia, which resulted in an array of acute skills shortages. Although net overseas migration levels have returned to pre-pandemic levels, the tech talent shortage and STEM skills gap persist in the EMP sector.

Government reforms to Australia’s Migration Program are an opportunity to refocus on attracting key overseas talent to critical areas such as energy transition to leverage the attractiveness of Australia as a destination to build future-ready industries.

  • The STEM skills shortage is at its highest level since 2008.
  • Almost 50% of HR professionals believe their organisations aren’t paying enough attention to DEI initiatives.
  • In some Energy, Mining and Property specialisations, migrant workers make up approximately two thirds of the workforce.
  • Job applicants with a non-English name are nearly 60% less likely to receive a positive response.
  • Nearly 25% of permanent skilled migrants work in roles beneath their skill level.

Skilled migration reform

More than two years of pandemic disruption to the workforce and workplaces has highlighted some significant challenges for Australia, which a thoughtfully designed migration program can help to address. A focus on skills and employability in building a migration program for Australia's future will deliver an outcome which supports employers, delivers positive economic outcomes and builds support across the wider Australian community.

Knowing which talent to target

Appropriate workforce planning can help employers gain clarity on their talent needs. While most organisations can identify today’s talent shortages, few can confidently identify specific needs next quarter let alone next year.

Strategic Talent Management can reveal surprising workforce priorities. KPMG predicts three critical talent battlegrounds.

  1. project Accountants that can apply their financial skills to plan and de-risk project delivery may be more important early in the project lifecycle than engineers and technical experts
  2. applied technologists who can scale digital innovation beyond small scale pilots will remain in short supply
  3. demand for specialist electricians with value-add capabilities (high voltage, working at heights, and in many cases jurisdiction specificity certifications, etc.), will outstrip demand for ‘generic’ electrical skills.

Addressing unconscious bias to combat talent shortages

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has long been a hot button issue for most organisations, but many have failed to achieve true workplace inclusivity. Only just over half of skilled migrants attain employment in their nominated occupation, and when they do, research has shown that those from non-English-speaking backgrounds often face significant obstacles to career progression.

To properly implement inclusive cultures, EMP organisations must do more than roll-out one-off diversity training initiatives. Changes to attraction and recruitment processes (including ‘nudges’) to reduce the opportunity for unconscious bias to impact outcomes should be considered.

Immigration, diversity and inclusion challenges – KPMG can help

Our team helps Energy, Mining and Property organisations access skilled talent and create a diverse workplace. We offer insights into recruitment planning and aid organisations in designing inclusive onboarding processes and support networks to maximise the value that skilled migrants can deliver.

Meet the team