Skills shortages in Australia

The Commonwealth Department of Employment has released information highlighting skilled occupations that are facing shortages or recruitment difficulties within Australia. The ratings of shortage reflect employers’ recruitment experience for workers with around three years or more experience in the relevant occupation. The list combines the results of the research undertaken at a national and state/territory level to provide information about the widespread nature of these shortages.

Of the many occupation areas, a key employment group which is suffering from a national skills shortage is the technicians and trades workers grouping. This includes occupations such as:

  • Engineering, ICT and Science Technicians
  • Automotive and Engineering Trades Workers
  • Construction Trades Workers
  • Electrotechnology and Telecommunication Trades Workers
  • Food Trades Workers
  • Skilled Animal and Horticultural Workers
  • Hairdressers

This is a particular concern given the downturn in commencements for apprenticeships and traineeships in recent years.

The skills shortages extend into the professional occupations area, which includes the following:

  • Architects, Surveyors
  • Business, HR and Marketing Professionals
  • Design, Engineering and Science Professionals
  • Construction Engineers
  • Health Professionals
  • Veterinarians

This recent data confirms the long-term trend of skills shortages, especially in technician, trade worker and professional occupations. Australia is facing a major issue in terms of employment due to a lack of skills, especially within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) area.

The announced changes to the sponsored skilled migration visa system will see more than 200 occupations removed from the list. This will have a minor impact on the sectors affected by the skills shortages. These changes to the skilled migration visa system are in keeping with the intentions to address the shortages in the above occupations and skills.

Have skill shortages affected the capability of your workforce? In what areas have you found difficulty recruiting?

Read the full list of skills shortages.

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Michael Taylor is Ai Group’s National Policy and Projects Manager, Education and Training. He is responsible for a number of national projects across workplace literacy and numeracy, skills, and the management of a mature age workforce. Michael also contributes to policy formulation across a wide spectrum of education, training and skills.

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  1. Kerrie H

    In the foundry industry jobbing moulding is no longer offered in any trade school that we are aware of. Most of our skilled workers are aged from late 40’s to mid 60’s. A jobbing foundry provides castings that are essential to Heritage Buildings, Sculpture Works, Restoration and essential parts for Historic Vehicles, Paddlesteamers, Old Style Bakeries etc, etc. Most of these items are small scale or one off’s so cannot be sourced overseas, collectively the volume of these castings is massive and are extremely valuable and sought after, there are not many foundries that are capable of this type of work anymore due to skill shortages. As foundries cannot offer apprenticeships anymore, no young person is interested, yet many of our historic buildings will fall into disrepair without them. It is time to act now while there is still skilled labour to train younger personel.

  2. Nicole Perrie

    We are a founding member of Australia Industry Group. We are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit skilled Tradespersons as well as train Apprentices. I thought until recently it was due to our location, southern Sydney, however was discussing our issue with another Company from western Sydney who advise they are in the same boat. There are no incentives for kids to get their hands dirty, and the TAFEs around us have shut down. I have been in the industry for 28 years and have watched a gradual decline in skills. I remember when I first started, we would advertise a position and get set up the night before to receive the barrage of calls in the morning. These days, we advertise a job and joke that whoever rings has got it!! That says it all.


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