Businesses Lament Being Unable to Find Staff As Skill Shortage in Australia Kicks In

By Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
June 25, 2021 Updated: June 25, 2021

Over one-quarter of Australian businesses are struggling to find suitable staff to fill job voids, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed in its June Insights into business conditions and sentiments.

ABS Head of Industry Statistics John Shepherd said 74 percent of businesses cited lack of applicants as a reason why they struggled to find staff, followed by job skill mismatch (66 percent) and international border closures (32 percent).

This comes as online job advertisement platform Seek says the number of applications per job advertisement has fallen to its lowest level since 2012. Meanwhile, the number of job ads themselves remain at “extraordinarily high” levels.

Seek Managing Director Kendra Banks said there is currently a reluctance to apply despite the abundance of opportunities, and with more job choices, candidates were now more selective. At the same time, they are also putting greater importance on job security compared to before.

“In addition, the reduced labour supply is impacting on the ability to fill roles, which includes the decrease in workers from overseas,” Banks said. “There is also a hesitancy for candidates to commit to applying for new roles after such a turbulent 12 months or so, with jobseekers valuing job security in light of COVID-19.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021)

Commonwealth Bank Chief Economist Stephen Halmarick said he was surprised that the ABS figures were not higher.

“We’re seeing the impact of skills shortages on businesses now, and that’s only going to get worse as the next year goes by, before the international borders open,” Halmarick told The Australian Financial Review.

Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) said ABS’s was inline with their own research into the labour market and said it was difficult for skills formation and development to keep pace with changing demands.

“ABS data released today confirm the depth of damaging skills shortages which continue to pose an ongoing risk to sustaining the expansion of our economy now in place,” Ai Group CEO Innes Willox said.

Willox said closed international borders remained a barrier that would continue to exacerbate the current skills shortage issue and constrain businesses to move past recovery.

“Businesses are taking necessary short-term action such as employing applicants without the right skills and skilling up; re-skilling existing employees; re-organising roles; and employing apprentices/trainees or taking on interns,” Willox said.

The ABS reported that over 20 percent of businesses expected to increase staff numbers within the next three months. Of these businesses, 61 percent expect the additional jobs to be permanent.

The top workforce actions planned within the next three months are to increase staff numbers, re-train existing staff, and increase staff numbers.

Last week, the Reserve Bank of Australia revealed that despite the skills shortage issue, businesses were offering one-off bonuses and more flexible work arrangements over wage increases to attract new workers.

Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu