Australian skills shortage due to retiring farmers

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A new report has warned that Australia will need to bring in more immigrant workers, as many the country's farmers are about to retire in the next decade. The report by the Australian branch of KPMG, an international consultancy firm, stated that the average age of Australian farmers was 56 in 2011.

The report claims that there will be a considerable risk of a skills shortage due to the lack of experienced farmers to train young farmers. The KPMG report suggests that immigrants from Asia will help significantly in bridging the skills gap. However, the report noted that Australia would need to change their immigration and visa policies with Asian countries in order to bridge the skills shortage.

"There is a considerable risk that there will be a lack of experienced farmers to train younger farmers who will be critical to driving productivity improvements and adapting to challenges such as climate change, increased competition and an increase on focus on the environmental impacts of farming," said the report.

The report also predicts the retirement of many farmers will lead to farms being sold to international and corporate investors for their natural resources. According to KPMG, this will lead to further employment opportunities that Australia will struggle to fill.

The Australian government is currently working on investing in domestic workers with initiatives like the National Workforce Development Fund which is expected to introduce AU$558 million (£364 million) into the economy over the next four years.

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