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International Hires Are More Important Than Ever

Author: Bernie Guthrie

Published date: 2022/08

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If you’ve been to an airport since we’ve come out of lockdowns or ordered something online, it’s safe to assume that you have been affected by some sort of delay. The most common reason for this, irrespective of industry, is staff shortages.

Having worked in the Victorian recruitment market for the better part of seven years, I always feel a sense of trepidation when speaking with clients about international candidates. The common objections I face are relocation costs, visa costs, and the unseen cost for an individual to become familiar with the appropriate local standards. Whilst I’m not an Engineer, and I certainly wouldn’t want to comment on what it takes to successfully deliver projects in the current climate, I must beckon the question - what is the unforeseen cost of not having somebody in the seat doing the work at all? Especially for a prolonged period?

It's certainly no secret that the Engineering and Infrastructure sectors are direly under-resourced at present. The argument could be made that now more than ever, we need to bring more international talent to our markets. I do believe both our State and Federal Governments are doing a fantastic job in job creation for trades, but there is still insufficient skilled labour coming to market. Additionally, there is a mass shortage of senior-level professionals from Engineering and Project Management across the board, and unfortunately, we can’t instantly create Senior Personnel to appear from nowhere.

Presently with the limited talent pool, we’re all robbing Peter to pay Paul (I really don’t like that metaphor, but it suits best) when it comes to hiring. Naturally, one of the key reasons for candidates changing jobs is an increase in salaries. This creates unintended inflation of above market rates for individuals whilst simultaneously not helping the broader market deliver projects. If we worked harder at hiring internationals, we may very well offset the aforementioned salary inflation.

It still shocks me that many companies are so averse to the idea of looking outside the Australian backyard. Fortunately, I work with some amazing organizations that have been open to the idea of bringing international talent to the market, and they are reaping the rewards for their gumption to act on the concept.

Since the COVID Pandemic, immigration has reduced and stalled at near zero per annum. We currently have a great opportunity to both fill resource shortages and stimulate the economy by attracting more international talent. I implore you as a hiring manager, the next time an international job application comes through, have an open mind. They very well could be the difference in a project being delivered successfully.


Bernie Guthrie is one of our Principal Consultants. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.