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Business

9 in 10 Australian organisations experiencing skills shortage

By Juliet Helmke | |5 minute read

A recruitment specialist reports that a dire lack of skilled workers has a majority of Australian businesses curtailing their plans for growth.

Hays reported that 88 per cent of organisations in Australia are experiencing a skills shortage, while 40 per cent say that the issue has intensified over the past year.

Because of an inability to find qualified employees, 78 per cent of employers report that either their normal mode of operation will be affected, or their growth plans will be held back.

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Of the organisations that are worried about the ability of their business to function under these circumstances, 62 per cent said that productivity would be down, and 63 per cent said that workloads for existing employees would increase.

Over half said that project delivery timelines would be impacted, and 49 per cent said that their expansion plans would be curtailed. A concerningly high number said they were worried about employee engagement and morale (46 per cent) and turnover due to burnout and competition (44 per cent).

Matthew Dickason, the CEO of Asia-Pacific at Hays, said that while Australian employers are unfortunately used to struggling to find qualified employees, he said that action is needed to be taken in light of worsening conditions.

“Australia’s skills shortage narrative is well entrenched in our labour market, but this year our survey shows its impact continues to intensify in many industries,” Mr Dickason said.

“There’s growing concern among employers about the lack of skilled professionals in today’s labour market,” he added.

Mr Dickason noted that despite the talent pool issues, businesses retained a level of positivity about the year ahead.

“Despite these challenges, vacancy activity remains remarkably resilient. After normalising from last year’s historic peak, today’s headcount expansion plans suggest current economic uncertainty will not impact all workforces,” he said.

But he cautioned employers to get on the front foot now to ensure they’re able to attract and retain staff in the future.

“It’s clear we’re heading for a skills recession as a shrinking talent pipeline threatens the effective operation and growth plans of organisations. With the skills shortage predicted to last well into the 2030s, employers must guard against the long-term impact.”

Hays also reported on the most common ways employers are trying to address the skills shortage.

Three quarters of employers have offered higher salaries than originally planned to attract the right candidates. In addition, 62 per cent are upskilling existing staff to help overcome skills gaps, while 37 per cent are considering employing or sponsoring overseas candidates – that’s a significant jump from last year, when just 7 per cent reported they may look to the international candidate pool.

Mr Dickason encouraged businesses to band together among their industry to see if there was collective action that could be taken.

“While investing in their own strategies is crucial to remain competitive, employers must take a wider view and work together to address the skills shortage crisis,” he said.

“The issue of skills shortages isn’t specific to one organisation or industry but is a systemic problem impacting the entire labour market. We must shift mindsets and collaborate to address skills shortages collectively.

“These findings highlight the need for employers, the government and educational institutions to work together to address the root causes of the skills shortage and build a strong future workforce.”