Hiring difficulty set to become the norm

by Stephanie Zillman24 Apr 2012

Australian organisations are struggling to recruit staff despite the downcast labour market, a new report has shown.

Some 40% of business leaders said they are taking three months longer to find the right staff compared to a year ago, the latest BankWest Skills Shortage survey found. If organisations don’t make the right investments in recruiting overseas talent, taking on professional apprentices, and utilising alternative labour sources (such as increasing recruitment in the graduate and mature-aged worker demographics) the problems will only intensify, Bankwest business CEO Ian Corfield said.

Corfield also warned that if the economy does not pick up over the next couple of years, businesses will experience the same kinds of challenges witnessed in 2007 when the shortage of skilled labour was at an all-time high. “That's a genuine impediment on the Australian economy if we can't resolve it over time,” he added.

While the unemployment rate has risen by 0.2% over the past year, economists have said the figure would have been much higher if it weren’t for declining workforce participation – a concerning trend in itself. Corfield said skilled migration needs to be increased, particularly in the mining states, and the number of graduates and apprentices from universities or training programs needs to be much higher.

Although there are a large number of graduates and other inexperienced candidates looking for work, the hardest candidates to attract were those with three to seven years’ experience, the research found.

Key survey findings:

  • 39.7% of respondents found it harder to recruit staff with three to seven years' experience than 12 months ago; but
  • 59.1% found it easier to fill positions requiring less than two years' experience over the same period.
  • The lack of skilled staff in the labour market has resulted in 66.7% of employees working longer hours
  • 22.6% of businesses have had to turn down work as a result of these factors

Corfield speculated that more experienced employees tend to have more financial responsibilities and were less likely to switch jobs during times of economic uncertainty.


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  • by Bec 24/04/2012 2:47:10 PM

    The fact that graduates and mature age workers are even seen by employers as "alternative labour sources" contributes much to the problem.

  • by Mark Watson 26/04/2012 5:19:45 PM

    These are not new jobs but attempts to attract people already in jobs to move, with the precarious economic situation no one is prepared to move.
    HR needs a whole new schema to break the process driven dogma that sees this cycle repeating.

  • by Tom 27/04/2012 1:10:30 PM

    I think the employers are setting unrealistic expectations in today's market. They need to look beyond specific sector-relevant experience and look more deeply into overall skills and capabilities which can be utilised in the job they are trying to fill. I'm looking for work and in Perth, the majority of employers are insisting on significant resources sector experience. Where do they get all these people from? Why can't they look at someone like me who has a raft of skills, attributes and insights that could be easily used on the job. I think they're just way too fussy...

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