ABS Skills Shortage
Skills shortage is being felt around the country. Image – Canva.
  • 27% of Australian businesses are already reporting difficulties in hiring staff
  • Main reasons: lack of applicants, wrong skills, international border closures and job location
  • 23% of businesses expect to increase staff numbers over the next three months

The looming skills shortage seems to be already upon us, with more than a quarter (27%) of Australian businesses reporting difficulty in finding staff, according to an ABS survey conducted this month (9 to 16 June).

In the survey, there were several reasons put forward by the companies themselves.

“The most frequently reported reason was a lack of applicants (74%), followed by applicants not having the required skills (66%), international border closures (32%) and job location (29%),” said John Shepherd, ABS Head of Industry Statistics.

Main Reasons for skills shortages (June 2021 Survey)

ABS staff shortages
Source: ABS

Some of these reasons play into each other. Border closures and limitations to mobility around the country compound an already tightening labour market, with companies having to source staff locally, and finding fewer options.

For those looking for work, it’s a boom time.

“Businesses reported having difficulty finding suitable hospitality workers, sales staff, engineering and science professionals and drivers. Other in-demand jobs included building trades and business professionals,” Mr Shepherd said.

“The survey also found that 19% of businesses reported that, based on current operations, they didn’t have sufficient employees.

“Notable factors influencing staff numbers for these businesses were the inability to find suitable staff (57%) and the affordability of additional staff (48%).”

Looking forward, 23% of businesses expected to increase staff numbers over the next three months. For those anticipating an increase in staff, 61% expected the additional jobs to be permanent.

Lockdowns in Sydney, Darwin and widening restrictions in Brisbane, Perth and elsewhere are not making things any easier.


Source: Business Conditions and Sentiments Survey, ABS

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