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.