Australia’s Skills Shortage Escalates over 20%

Posted on: 10.10.2011    19:50:10

Reinforcement of the warnings we have been issuing comes from accounting firm KPMG which expects the retirement of baby boomers over the next decade to present labour challenges to small and medium-sized businesses in Australia.

Releasing its 2011 skilled migration survey, KPMG says the labour shortage worsened by 10% over the past year. And it’s not just the booming natural resources sector that’s feeling the pinch – foreign workers are also being sought in the areas of accounting, finance, IT, planning and policy. There is even a national crisis in Executive Chefs!

The report, based on 300 Australian businesses, conducted through July and August, shows that 61% of respondents have reported skills shortages over the year, up from 51% the previous year. An overall growth in skills gaps of more than 20%

The survey also found that 28% of respondents were feeling the effects of the departure of baby boomers from the workforce, and 42% expect the generation’s retirement to deliver a “moderate to significant” impact over the next five years. This year the first of the baby boomers are set to retire.

But it’s not all doom and gloom: KPMG says an “encouraging” 69% of respondents had some sort of strategy in pace for dealing with skills, and 57% reported planning for generational change.

Furthermore, 89% of respondents said they were training Australian employees to meet future skill needs, with 78.5% finding it more effective to train and retrain existing local employees than recruit skilled offshore workers under the 457 visa program owing to the time delays associated with going this route.

The report notes that smaller companies – those with up to $20 million in revenue – are less likely than larger companies to be more reliant on offshore skills, with 12% tipping an increased reliance on skilled migration over the next five years, versus 33% for companies with revenue between $201 and $400 million.

While stressing that demand for foreign labour will depend on global economic conditions, Australia is already battling with other Western countries for foreign labour.

There is a global shortage of talent in certain sectors and failure to think internationally may leave Australian CEO’s with egg on their face, as competition intensifies especially, in the light of increased international mobility in labour markets.

For international recruitment agencies, able to access talent, will place them in the easiest, most rewarding markets, and Australian bureaucracy does not lend itself to speedy job offers in a very competitive international arena.


Author – Chris Slay

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