Skills shortages pressure wage demands and infrastructure budgets

by 21 Oct 2010

Skills shortages could have a negative impact on Australia’s major infrastructure projects - including the National Broadband Network - while driving up wage demands in the process.

According to the September quarter Clarius Skills Index, large ventures such as the NBN and key transport, health and education infrastructure projects will generate further increases in demand for labour.

Chief operating officer of the Clarius Group, Kym Quick, said that in addition to the potential implications on these infrastructure projects, there is also competition for experienced, skilled workers placing pressure on the corporate sector.

“Some companies will pay whatever it takes to get the right person, but this has a wider affect on the market place forcing other companies to match their offers or miss out on key staff,” she said.

The report revealed an overall shortage of skilled labour, with the Index of skilled workers rising from a moderate 98.3 in the September 2009 quarter to a balanced – bordering on high – reading of 100.6 for the September 2010 quarter.

A score of 100 indicates equal tension between labour supply and demand, translating to a shortage of approximately 21,300 skilled workers in the Australian labour market of almost 12 million people.

If this increase is not met by supply, the skills shortage could widen and wages may rise for occupations that are directly sought for those infrastructure projects, the report said.

Ten of the 20 skilled occupation categories measured by the Clarius Skills Index are now experiencing shortages, and six are involved in aspects of infrastructure projects across the country.

The 10 occupations and index readings that are currently experiencing skilled labour shortages are listed below:

· Building and Engineering Professionals (100.5)

· Computing Professionals (101.4)

· Building and Engineering Associate Professionals (100.8)

· Metal Tradespersons (108.0)

· Automotive Tradespersons (104.5)

· Construction Tradespersons (102.7)

· Food Tradesperson (102.7)

· Wood Tradesperson (103.6)

· Chefs (108.5)

· Hairdressing Tradespersons (102.7)

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