Urgent action needed on skills shortage

by 02 Nov 2011

Industries in the firing line of the skills shortage are being urged to take preventative measures to safeguard their supply of workers, and according to a new research paper the future reality will see a plethora of unfilled jobs.

Professional services firm Deloitte has released the first paper in its new series, Building the Lucky Country – Business Imperatives for a Prosperous Australia, which has identified severe shortcomings by government and Australian business in taking pre-emptive measures against the skills shortage.

Deloitte CEO, Giam Swiegers, said leading organisations have already realised the growing problem, and are engaged in ideas and solutions to address the issue.

“They are already developing larger, more effective workforces, tapping into underutilised workers, getting the most out of the workers who already work for them, and using innovative, new ways to leverage hidden sources of labour capacity,” Swiegers said.

Chris Richardson, of Deloitte Access Economics, commented that while the resources industries go from strength to strength, migration to Australia has fallen alongside the biggest surge in retiree numbers ever seen.

These factors combined mean thenext few years will see skill shortages proliferate, according to Richardson.

“Businesses need to realise that the future won’t be like the past and the competition will be for workers, rather than jobs. That somebody already working for you is more valuable than they have been before. That letting somebody retire without exploring the options to keep them for longer may be a wasted and costly opportunity,” Richardson added.

The discussion paper highlighted positive actions businesses and policy makers can take to maintain staffing requirements as workers become harder to find:

  • Working with education providers to access future skills, and shaping courses to suit business needs
  • Fully utilising one of Australia’s biggest untapped sources of competitive talent – women
  • growing labour pools through skilled migration and considering outsourcing (‘importing’ a service)
  • Tempting retirees back to work – or encouraging them to stay on in the first place
  • Lifting the participation of groups such as indigenous workers, migrants and people with disabilities
  • Taking engagement to the next level, making existing employees the most productive workers of all
  • Using innovative solutions and technology, including ‘crowdsourcing’ to address business needs

Swiegers commented that while there was no ‘one size fits all’ solution, “Those who respond early and effectively will be best placed to flourish.”


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  • by Rebecca Fraser 2/11/2011 11:04:24 PM

    As a career development practitioner this is a key area of interest for myself and my clients. I recently just wrote a blog in relation to the skills shortage and the link this has to the traditional career development model; on the job mentoring and development of employees by an organisation. This included engagement of staff from early on in the career and collaboratively working on career planning and progression. This is something that has become a low focus in a number of organisations; rather than supplementing career development higher education seems to have been used in many instances to replace it. Through focusing on employees, an organisation will achieve increase staff engagement, reduction in attrition and develop outstanding talent. Career Development for all staff is key to an organisations success.

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