Employers rely on overseas talent

by Iain Hopkins23 Nov 2011

New research has revealed that more than one third of Australian employers are forced to look abroad to the UK, India and South Africa to fill key positions.

The research paper, Borderless Solutions to Today’s Talent Mismatch, by ManpowerGroup advised employers to take a calculated and sophisticated approach to managing their talent supply.

The data indicated that engineering and skilled trades’ jobs are among the most difficult to fill, and it is imperative that employers incorporate a tailored talent mobility strategy into their recruitment operations.

Other key finding from the research paper included:

  • Employers looking abroad for talent indicated that the biggest obstacles they encounter when recruiting foreign workers are visa and legal requirements (25%); cost (10%) and language barriers (9%).
  • Only 14% of employers are concerned about the impact on the labour market from talent leaving Australia to work in another country.
  • Nonetheless, 68% of employers in Australia believe government and business are not doing enough to slow the outward migration of talent and attract these people back to Australia.
  • Employers in Australia named China, India and US as the countries they believe provide the biggest threat to Australia’s ability to compete economically 

Lincoln Crawley, managing director of ManpowerGroup Australia & New Zealand, said that companies often struggle with the concept of a ‘borderless workforce’, perhaps due to Australia’s geographic isolation.

However, Crawley added, “The hard fact is, Australia doesn’t have enough of the right skills to sustain current projects. So if we want to survive, we must consider ourselves part of a ‘region’, working closer with our Asia Pacific neighbours and the opportunities they provide for sharing workforces across borders.”

Additionally, he called on employers to collaborate with governments and educators to create more dynamic sourcing opportunities.

The survey results do show that some Australian regions have embraced a global workforce more than others, and Western Australia is leading the way – nearly half (47%) of WA employers are using foreign talent to supplement their workforce.

“Western Australia has been forced to think more strategically about labour supply – in many ways attracting workers from overseas is easier than enticing them across from the eastern states,” Crawley said.


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