Skills shortage still hurting local firms

AUSTRALIAN employers continue to be plagued by skills shortages, with tradespeople and engineers the key workers in demand, according to Manpower Group’s latest survey.

Andrew Duffy

In its 2014 talent shortage survey Manpower said 41% of Australian businesses reported difficulty filling jobs, a 4% decrease on the same time last year.

Of the employers experiencing a shortage, 56% said the problem had a medium or high impact on their ability to meet client needs, a decrease of 2%.

Breaking down the figures, 18% said the shortages had a high impact compared to 16% last year, while 38% reported a medium impact compared to 42% a year ago.

A further 31% said shortages had a low impact on meeting client needs, while 12% said they had no impact.

Looking at the effect talent shortages had on an organisation, 37% of businesses said it reduced their competitiveness and productivity, while 21% said it reduced innovation and creativity.

A further 27% of employers said shortages reduced the engagement and morale of their workforce.

Of the 43 countries included in the survey, Australia ranked middle of the bunch, with Japan, Peru and India the worst hit.

After skilled trades and engineers, the next hardest jobs to fill in Australia were sales representatives, accounting and finance staff and management/executive roles.

Looking at the reasons for the difficulties, 37% of employers said a lack of available candidates was the key driver for the shortage, while 25% said a lack of experience was a problem.

A further 20% said applicants lacked technical competencies and hard skills, while 9% blamed an undesirable geographic location and 8% said applicants were looking for more pay than what was offered.

In responding to the challenge of talent shortages, 47% of businesses said they were adopting non-traditional people practices, such as introducing further training, enhancing benefits and providing clear career development.

Another 26% said they were exploring talent sources outside the local region, looking at different demographics and partnering with educational institutions.

A significant 20% of survey respondents said they were not pursuing any strategies to address the problems.

More than 37,000 employers responded to the survey globally, including 1500 Australian firms across all states and territories.