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SMEs are struggling to fill positions as the national skills shortage persists

There is a significant gap in the Australian labour market, with small and medium-sized firms finding it difficult to fill positions as they contend with the ongoing skills shortage.

According to a poll by Localsearch, more than half of the SMBs surveyed had trouble filling open positions over the previous 12 months. 


  • Sixty-seven per cent of small to medium businesses (SMBs) surveyed that advertised for new staff during the last 12 months have yet to fill the positions 
  • Seventy-four per cent of SMBs say that the biggest challenge when finding staff is the lack of industry experience. An additional 36 per cent claim that there aren’t enough skilled workers to undertake high-level jobs, and a further 33 per cent say that applicants that do have the skills are asking for above-average salaries. 
  • Almost 50 per cent of SMBs surveyed believe that the trade industry is facing the biggest challenges due to skills shortages. 

The results also showed that more than 40 per cent of questioned SMBs are experiencing limited business growth, and more than 60% are discovering that they are unable to keep up with regular business operations because of a lack of skilled workers.

These discoveries highlight the urgent need to address workforce shortages and build long-term capacity in priority sectors. According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia is in the middle of one of its largest-ever labour shortages, with more than 480,000 job vacancies across the country and almost a third of businesses struggling to find suitable workers. 

This issue was also addressed at the recent 2022 Jobs and Skills Summit, where it was made clear that immediate action was required to address the national skills shortage facing Australian businesses. 

With a footprint across regional and metropolitan areas supporting SMBs across the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Northern Territory, digital presence provider Localsearch has been supporting more than 28,000 SMBs (while also providing free support to a further 300,000 businesses) for almost 30 years. The company is highlighting the need for greater support for small to medium businesses, which make up more than 99.5% of businesses in Australia today. 

Daniel Stoten, Executive Chairman at Localsearch, says: “There are many ways consumers can help businesses during the current industry skills shortage situation we find ourselves in, and many of these are free. 

“Something as small and as simple as liking, commenting on and sharing business’s posts on social media is still a very important interaction consumer can have with local businesses. This process informs the social media platform in a way that shows that they know the business’s audience like the posts and will push it to even more people.

“Sometimes overlooked but equally as crucial is leaving business reviews online following interactions you have had with them. Where possible, try not only to leave a star rating but also communicate what was great about the experience (or not so great). Before leaving a negative review, consider contacting the business first to try and resolve the issue.

“If you still want to leave a bad review, consider if it’s really fair to be leaving a 1-star review. Was the entire interaction horrible? Were the team still trying their best to help you with a matter out of their control, which may warrant a 4-star review instead?

‘It’s important to remember that the skills shortage issue we are facing will most likely directly impact the number of resources that business has available at any time. Try and give businesses as much time as possible to help you. If you know you have an event coming up or know ahead of time you’ll need something from a business, try and do so as far ahead as possible. This gives the business time to fit in your request adequately, or order products if they are experiencing logistical delays out of their control.”

Executive Chairman at Localsearch, Daniel Stoten says: “Our mission at Localsearch is to continue helping the mum and dad businesses of Australia grow their businesses and their online presence. We’re doing all we can to support our clients’ online growth, visibility and development; however, as the survey results illustrate, it’s clear that more needs to be done to ensure they can continue to prosper. 

“We operate in the technology industry, specifically through providing digital marketing presence solutions, which are also being affected by the national skill shortage issues. What is more prevalent, though, and might be currently overlooked, is that the skills shortage issue affects all Australian businesses across all sectors regardless of the size of those businesses. A construction firm up in the Gold Coast will need more labourers, while a bakery down in Melbourne might need more SEO and website development assistance to be seen online and help sales. We must continue to support and service these businesses with the available tools, and we at Localsearch will continue to champion those small and medium businesses.” 

Director at Red Centre Technology Partners, Craig Reid says: “As Central Australia and remote Northern Territory’s leading integrated solutions provider for IT and Technology, we have a number of businesses that rely on us to provide fast and effective support. As we continue to work through the skills shortage, we’re finding it increasingly difficult to do this.” 

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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