New data shows surplus of skilled labour

by Stephanie Zillman19 Nov 2012

While battling the skills shortage might have been the buzz-term of 2012 and for several years prior to that, the latest data has found that there is now a massive surplus of skilled labour across a large cross-section of sectors.

The Clarius Group's Skills Index for the September quarter revealed there was a skilled labour surplus numbering some 19,500 across the 20 occupation categories it looked at – a very different state-of-play compared with the June quarter for 2012 when there was a shortage of 2,300.

But what’s driving the turnaround?

The study identified a marked increase in unemployment in the three months to September 30 (5.2% to 5.4%) as well as a decrease in employment opportunities amid the volatile global economy.

However, according to Kim Quick from Clarius, there are still significant skills shortages in the key sectors which are currently driving Australia’s economic growth, namely the mining and resources sector.

Specifically, the index found there was a shortage of 6,900 engineers, 5,900 information and communications technology professionals, 2,700 accountants, company secretaries and auditors, 3,200 sales and marketing professionals and 700 legal professionals. The time to proactively source talent to fill these shortages is now, and Quick commented that shortages in these professions could impact on Australia’s ability to take full advantage of upturns in Asian economies, including China and India, in the short to medium term. “Global markets are showing signs of life which should instil more confidence locally. The view of our colleagues in China is that the powerhouse nation will be significantly stronger mid-2013 and Australia needs to be able to kick up a gear as well,” she said.

Other key figures included:

  • Australia’s most in demand occupation is Corporate Service Managers labelled in ‘extreme’ demand – Post GFC this role has become increasingly important given post GFC compliance and stakeholder scrutiny.

  • Advertising and Sales Managers continues to be in ‘extreme’ demand as companies focus on their sales teams and bottom line.

  • Engineering professionals are also in ‘extreme’ demand which is set to increase in 2013 as China’s economy comes online again.

  • ICT professionals are also in ‘extreme’ demand as Australian companies are set to spend $66 billion in ICT in 2013.

Interestingly it was found that Gen Y are appreciating their jobs more too because they are seeing colleagues being made redundant and are realising their employers can afford to be more choosy. “Expectations are now more realistic and they appreciate the fact they've actually got a job, having seen many of their colleagues face a very different scenario,” Quick said.

*The index weakened from 100.1 "balanced" in the June quarter to 99.2 "moderate" in this quarter, with a score under 100 meaning the skilled labour market has moved from a shortage to an oversupply.


  • by Max Underhill 19/11/2012 8:53:42 PM

    We are not surprised that the index has come down for the "skill index". However we are finding that there are plenty of "qualified people" but we are finding it difficult to get competent people. This is particularly true when we assess against an out-come based competency system. The competence gaps, we feel are increasing and without identifying this when we appoint people it will impact on productivity. When we tell people that they have competency gaps and they will need to develop they seem to just shrug it off and quote the degree or MBA they have.

    I really understand where SANTOS is coming from with the shortage of competent people or incompetent people wanting to be paid as if they were fully competent. No wonder there is a pay - productivity differential.

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