Serious national skills shortages are re-emerging after a brief oversupply in the December quarter as Australia faces increasing demands from the rebuilding phases after natural disasters this year and the ongoing resources boom, according to the latest Clarius Skills Index.
The March Index reports a net shortfall of 11,000 skilled workers across all occupation categories, predominantly in the Construction, Building and Engineering categories, across Professional, Associate Professional and Trades occupations.
Demand for skilled labour rose during the March quarter by 64,000 people (1.9 per cent) while supply increased by only 51,400 people (1.5 per cent). As a result, the Clarius Skills Index has risen in the March quarter, and remains firmly in the balanced range at 100.3, up from 99.9.
Clarius COO Kym Quick, said as recovery moves into the rebuilding phase demands for construction, engineering and building skills will combine with the escalation of the resources boom in Western Australia and major IT projects to place a growing drain on the nation’s available skills.
“This is shaping as a major national issue. WA’s boom economy continues draw a range of skills. The impact of the floods, and cyclone in Queensland, has not fully translated into major shifts in labour demand or supply but they are now starting to emerge,” she said.
“There are also pressures in the IT sector as three of the major banks spend $4 billion dollars to upgrade their IT systems and the national NBN rollout, despite issues with 14 tenders, continues.”
The Skills Index – prepared by KPMG Econtech – is the only measure of underlying demand and supply of skilled labour in Australia. An Index of 100 indicates a balanced labour market.
The March figures reverse the slight oversupply in December of 1,800 people across the 20 skilled occupation categories but represent only half the 21,300 shortage reported in the September quarter.
The main shortages are in Metal Trades (11,300), Automotive (8,300), Construction (2,600) and Wood (1,300) while there is a shortage of 400 in the Professional Associates category of Building and Engineering and of 2,200 Computing Professionals across the government and private sector.
There are oversupplies of skilled labour in Health, Social and Electronic occupation categories.
In some of the smaller Professional categories there have been significant increases in demand.
“There has been an increased demand of 16,000 accountants. This is a quite a jump considering there’s a total of around 178,000 jobs for various types of accountants. The main areas of increase have been those related to revenue like accounts payable and receivable and payroll,” Ms. Quick said.
The occupations that are currently experiencing most shortages of skilled labour are:
• Metal Tradespersons
• Automotive Tradespersons
• Wood Tradespersons
• Food Tradespersons
• Computing Professionals
• Construction Tradespersons
• Building and Engineering Associate Professionals