Health, education and engineering sectors set to suffer

by 07 Nov 2011

Health, education and engineering are the three major employment sectors to be hit by skills shortages over the next 10 to 15 years, according to a new skills index.

Released today, the latest Clarius Skills Index has shown that based on current trends, for every 110 health professionals who retire, including GPs, nurses, pharmacists, vets and dietitians, there will only be 84 qualified people to replace them.

Additionally, a similar situation is expected in education and engineering as Australia’s ageing workforce retires.

Kym Quick, Clarius chief executive officer, said there is currently a general reluctance to take on new permanent staff, but that the more confident and savvy operators are using this as an opportunity to shore up talent while it is available.

“Among so much uncertainty, the one thing we can be sure of is that the market is cyclical and although this current cycle is unlike any other we have seen in recent times, there are clear indications it will recover and demand for skills will be higher than ever,” Quick said.

However, Quick said that the reality now is the problem of skills gaps persisting in seven of the 20 occupations surveyed for the index, and added the problems are being compounded by the ageing workforce reaching retirement.

She said that while in 1998 less than 8.3% of the labour force was between 55 and 65 years, today it has almost doubled to 13.8%.

“These workers will reach retirement age in 10 to 15 years, and with a growing economy, Australian employers need to either convince them to stay longer in the labour market or plan to replace them with younger qualified workers,” Quick said.

The major challenge of meeting the economic labour requirements comes from not only needing to secure workers to sustain growth, but also to ensure the correct skills mix of workers.

“Many businesses are already working to keep their older skilled employees, but more initiatives are needed to encourage and incentivise them to stay while at the same time ensure skill levels and our knowledge economy are transferred and extended across the workforce,” Quick said.


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