Global auditing giant Ernst and Young has warned construction and accomodation sectors will be highly susceptible to ongoing disruptions once coronavirus lockdowns end.
Analysis from EY's chief economist Jo Masters has outlined manual labour sectors with higher COVID-19 seeding risks will face constraints beyond shutdowns, flagging rapid antigen testing and micro isolation tactics will be needed to ensure business continuity.
"Even as we get to 80 per cent vaccination rates, even as we ease restrictions, there are going to be ongoing challenges for those sectors and they will be heightened in those parts of the economy where there are already labour shortages," Ms Masters told The Canberra Times.
According to EY, sectors with tight labour markets such as construction, accommodation and food services are expected to see ongoing challenges in terms of conducting normal operations.
In the UK, businesses are reporting anywhere between 20 to 30 per cent of staff needing to isolate or await tests from COVID-19 exposures, despite being vaccinated.
Doherty Institute modelling assumes ongoing tracing, tracking, isolating and quarantine will need to occur beyond 80 per cent vaccination targets.
Ms Masters said the experience in other countries prompts urgency for the Commonwealth and state governments through the prism of National Cabinet to outline a roadmap out of the pandemic, which needs to include how rapid antigen testing and other measures will be implemented.
- Economists warn workforce disruptions will occur when Australia accepts living with virus
- Jim Chalmers claims vaccine failures has cost businesses and workers billions
- Australian rapid-testing companies say the federal and state governments have not engaged with them
- Unions claim hijack of Melbourne protests by far right has been months in the works
"We needed a national roadmap," she said.
"Ideally you want a national roadmap so that businesses have some degree of certainty about what will be expected of their workforce, and can plan for that disruption."
Ms Masters acknowledged a national roadmap would be fluid and have a lot of moving parts, while the response is fixed on curtailing virus numbers.
EY also notes health technology will assist in alleviating the disruption to the economy.
Large corporates such as Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and Woolworths are trialling rapid antigen testing.
Labour supply shortages in certain sectors will likely place an upward pressure on wages, as firms in markets with skill deserts will need to pay more to attract workers.
Calls for a roadmap by the auditing giant to manage the virus spread, come after revelations local manufacturers of rapid antigen testing have not been engaged by the Morrison government or the Department of Health.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has publicly said he sees an important role for rapid and at-home testing.
Ongoing disruptions flagged by EY for the construction industry also coincide with Victoria's two-week shutdown of the sector and a vaccine mandate that has sparked three-days of angry and volatile protests in Melbourne.
Ms Masters said construction disruptions from COVID-19 have a profound impact on the economy and were a clear example of an industry needing a coordinated plan during the remainder of the pandemic.
"When you restrict activity and construction, it does have a big economic impact and it does take time to recover," she said.