The Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) defines skill shortages as follows:
‘Skill shortages exist when employers are unable to fill, or have considerable difficulty in filling, vacancies for an occupation, or specialised skill needs within that occupation, at current levels of remuneration and conditions of employment, and reasonably accessible location.’
‘Shortages are typically for specialised and experienced workers, and can co-exist with relatively high unemployment overall or in the occupation.’
‘An occupation may be assessed as in shortage even though not all specialisations may be in shortage. Occupations may be in shortage in particular geographical areas and not in others.’
Why do skill shortages happen?
The causes of skill shortages are complex and varied.
- Cyclical economic shifts: Australia is increasingly exposed to fluctuations in the international economy. As a result, work volumes also ebb and flow, resulting in longer-cycle changes as well as seasonal ones.
- Labour market restructuring: The introduction of new technology, or changes to the structure of the economy can lead to rapid changes in the demand for an occupation, creating a sudden oversupply or shortfall of qualified people.
- Regional mismatches: Skilled personnel may be in short supply in a particular region.
- Unpopular jobs: Some jobs have image problems, and employers find it difficult to attract people to them.
Why are skill shortages important?
Skill shortages are important to job seekers for three basic reasons:
- There is a good chance of getting a job in an occupation where qualified workers are in short supply.
- There’s also the chance that job seekers will be offered high wages and good conditions, and be in a good position to negotiate improvements, as employers seek to attract labour. Accelerated career development may also be possible in areas with shortages.
- Government programs exist to address skill shortages. For instance, good training opportunities may be available for occupations experiencing shortages.
Where are the current skill shortages?
DEEWR provides lists of current skill shortages across Australia and in each state and territory. See the Skill Shortage List page [opens in a new window].