The perils of forgetting the skills shortage in Australia

No one dare mention the words ‘skills shortage’, not in this climate.

The reality, however, is a different story. A new report by Australian Human Resource Institute found the following:

  • seven out of ten (69.42 %, see graph) employers experience skills shortage
  • more than 85% believed skilled migration is necessary
  • nine out of ten respondents (95.03%) whose organisations employed skilled migrants reported trying to fill the vacancies within Australia first.


Whatever political persuasion one belongs to, the cold truth is Australia is ageing, birth rates are at a historical low, our universities are not supplying enough graduates, and of course we export roughly 5% of our populace at any given time. Simply, the reality for many employers is the inability to fill skilled vacancies (note, there is a difference between skills shortage and candidate shortage).

The tragedy of the current recession is twofold – a very real short-term economic hardship, and the clouding of our collective perception on the need to plan for the workforce challenges the nation will face in the future (That a whole industry which thrives on the supply and demand of labour, remains a silent observer is baffling. Not a squeak. Do we only talk about ‘skills shortage’ when it serves our purpose?). When the turnaround happens, we will rue the short-sightedness of our current actions or inactions.

The AHRI report should ignite discussions again, however unfashionable in the current climate.

1 reply
  1. mit
    mit says:

    Skills shortage? What skills shortage I’ve been trying to find a job as an apprentice electrician for year’s, but there are no opportunities anywhere either with group trainers like skilled or electrogroup, i’ve been right through the phone book twice no one is interested and there are never any jobs advertised on seek or mycareer and the few that are I never get a response from and when ever I get an interview it is usually in a group of 10 to 20 short listed applicants. So if there is a skills shortage and we have 5% unemployment why cant people find work? why are people not being put in traineeship or apprenticeships, maybe it is just that employers find it easer and cheaper to get people from overseas and then employ them as cheap labour then it is to give an Australian an opportunity


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