A recent study showed that employers in Australia are ignoring the growing issue of the national and global skills shortage. Experts share tips on how to turn things around and address the problem before it’s too late.
ManpowerGroup Australia’s tenth annual Talent Shortage Survey, which interviewed over 1,500 employers around the country, found that 42% of Aussie employers are struggling to fill roles.
Researchers found that employers are stepping away from addressing the talent shortage at a rate of one and a half times their global counterparts.
Lincoln Crawley, managing director at ManpowerGroup Australia and New Zealand called this pattern “alarming and disappointing”.
“Globally we have seen the number of businesses taking on strategies to counter the talent shortage increase, while on home soil this number has dropped dramatically over a 12 month period,” he said. “Australian employers are giving up.”
Crawley advised employers to tie a talent shortage strategy in with offering unorthodox ways of working.
“We are observing a divergence across the economy,” he said. “Employers who fail to adopt non-traditional work practices risk becoming irrelevant to the new generation of workers, while those that innovate will succeed.”
Experts at ManpowerGroup Australia shared the following tips with HC on how to address and tackle a skills shortage:
1. Have strong training and development programs so staff are continuously learning and growing
2. Establish realistic and regular incentive programs
3. Promote a family-friendly and flexible work environment while maintaining high standards of work and results
4. Utilise new parents returning to the workforce and consider job sharing to maximise the flexibility they are offered
5. Consider older staff – hiring over 50s qualifies companies for a government subsidy
6. Consistently work on strengthening your company's point of difference to attract and retain the best in the industry
7. Communicate with your people regularly
8. Don't forget to praise staff when they do a good job
9. Make efforts to inject fun into the workplace so people are excited and motivated even when times are tough
10. Design medium to long term career plans to give staff visibility to all potential career paths
Employers around Australia reported that the most difficult roles to fill were management and executive positions, skilled trades and sales representatives. Skilled trades have remained the most challenging positions to fill for nine years.
“While skilled trades have continued to be the hardest roles to fill for nearly a decade, the demand profile has changed in recent years,” said Crawley. “Demand for roles like electricians and mechanics has eased, while a shift in infrastructure developments across the country is seeing demand outstrip supply for specialist engineers, labourers and skilled trades in infrastructure and construction.”
He added that one of the biggest challenges posed to employers was finding “ready-made specialists, rather than investing in developing existing skills”.
Crawley also called for employers to ensure that IT workers are being invested in so that they can reskill to remain relevant, adding that many IT roles are becoming obsolete.
According to the study’s findings, employers are aware of the constraints that skills shortages are putting on their company despite their apparent reluctance to take action.
Forty-six per cent said that skills shortages were reducing their ability to serve their clients, 33% said they were a hindrance to their organisation’s productivity and competitiveness, and 23% said it lowered employee engagement and morale.
The ten most difficult jobs to fill in 2015:
1. Skilled trades
2. Management / executives
3. Sales representatives
7. Accounting and finance staff
9. IT Staff
10. Secretaries, PAs, receptionists, administrative assistants and office support staff