Skills shortage set to soar
Australian employers are once again bracing themselves for a mass skills shortage, with current figures from the Clarius Skills Index confirming fears of a tightening war for talent.

Factors such as the WA mining boom, rebuilding work in Queensland and also a handful of major IT projects throughout the country, are all expected to contribute to the growing need for workers in Australia.

Drawing upon figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, the index shows that demand for skilled labour rose during the March quarter by 64,000 people (1.9 per cent) while supply increased by only 51,400 people (1.5 per cent).

Mostly confined to the construction, building and engineering sectors, the demand contributed to a net shortfall for skilled workers of 11,000.

Clarius COO Kym Quick said that the figures underlined growing concern over a shortage of talent in the coming months, and explained the impact that current trends were having on the market.

“This is shaping as a major national issue,” she said. “WA’s boom economy continues to draw a range of skills. The impact of the floods, and cyclone in Queensland, has not fully translated into major shifts in labour demand or supply but they are now starting to emerge.

“There are also pressures in the IT sector as three of the major banks spend $4 billion dollars to upgrade their IT systems, and the NBN rollout also continues.”

Quick also said that employers were cautious due to issues such as the Federal Government’s proposed carbon tax, and also changes to reporting requirements on gender balance in the workplace.

While not yet directly affecting the skills employment market, Quick explained that both issues were causing uncertainty as companies monitor the potential affects they may have on future hiring, training and budget decisions.

Source: HR Leader April 2011