Why can't Australia find highly-skilled workers?

by 27 Sep 2017
Australia’s labour market is characterized by mismatch between the skills that employers want and those that jobseekers actually possess.

This is the takeaway from the 2017 Hays Global Skills Index, the results of which were released on Tuesday.  The study was published in collaboration with Oxford Economics.

While there is an existing pool of labour, employers in high-skill industries have difficulty filling jobs that need highly skilled professionals.

“Employers in industries such as IT, engineering, financial services and professional services have higher demand for talent than those in low-skill industries,” explains Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand.

The expansion of the wage gap between high- and lower-skill occupations also highlights the existing talent mismatch.

Because of new technology, routine and repetitive jobs have become redundant and have capped the demand for medium- and lower-skill workers. Their wages have experienced much slower grow while lower-skill occupations experienced much slower wage growth (see the ‘wage pressure in high-skill occupations’ indicator),” said Deligiannis.

Meanwhile, the demand for higher-skill workers – jobs that cannot be automated – has increased.  Wages for workers in digital, engineering, senior accounting and estimating have also continued to grow at around the same rate year-on-year.

Meanwhile Australia’s increase from 5.1 to 5.5 on the overall Index – the highest since 2013 – shows a greater difficulty in securing the right talent now than it was a year ago.

Among other findings:
• Talent mismatch: Australia scored 5.2, up from 4.5 in 2016, 4.2 in 2015 and 4.1 in 2014. Candidates who are readily available to take on jobs are less likely to possess the skills employers want.

• Wage pressure in high-skill industries: Australia scored 8.8, up from 8.0 in 2016, 2015 and 2014. There is a shortage of suitable talent in high-skill industries.  Wage pressure in high-skill industries is rising much quicker than in low-skill industries relative to the past.

• Wage pressure in high-skill occupations: Australia scored 6.2, up from 3.9 in 2016. There is a shortage of highly-skilled professionals.

• Overall wage pressure: Australia scored 4.9, down from 6.7 last year. Employers are holding tight and not using salary to compete for talent overall.

• Labour market participation: Australia scored 4.8. There are less people looking for work, thanks to recent growth in the number of jobs.

Australia’s flexibility score of 4.1 shows its education system is well equipped to meet future talent.

“Australia’s fluid job market is delivering career advancing opportunities, but the talent required for these roles is changing,” said Deligiannis.

Related stories:
Are employees truly scared of automation?
Talent shortage in Australia is lowest ‘since pre-GFC’


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