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Skills shortages loom large as a risk to growth


9 July 2010: According to a new Australian Industry Group/ Deloitte CEO survey, skills shortages are again looming large as a major risk for business and pose real problems for companies in terms of production and service delivery. This situation is forecast to intensify and businesses are working hard to mitigate the risks.

The survey, Skills shortages: A high risk business, which involved more than 400 companies of all sizes, found that more than one-third (34.7%) of businesses believe there is a high to extreme risk of skills shortages negatively impacting on the operation of their businesses this year. This level of concern increases to almost half of all companies (47.5%) by 2015.

Ai Group Chief Executive, Heather Ridout, said: "While skills shortages have never totally gone away, they are set to intensify with a vengeance and are arguably the number one threat to our economic growth. While companies learnt painful lessons from past downturns and hoarded their skilled staff, the magnitude of the problem today requires new strategies and renewed effort at a whole new level.

"Of particular concern is that shortages are intensifying in occupations associated with manufacturing, construction and engineering, which are pivotal to the Australian economy. These occupations are based on skills which have a long development lead time, are in high use across the economy and whose absence puts industry at high risk.

"Industry considers that managing skills shortages is a high priority (38.8%), but they also believe that investing in skilling is a shared responsibility between government, business and individuals. Businesses are seeking to do their share of the heavy-lifting by putting on more apprentices where possible and having a renewed focus on up-skilling their existing workforce. For government, addressing skills shortages needs to be put right at the top of the policy agenda and a strategic and comprehensive approach taken to developing our skills pool," Mrs Ridout said.

Regional Managing Partner Deloitte Consulting Asia Pacific, Gerhard Vorster, said: "The credit crunch was a mere blip compared to the chronic skills shortage that continues to restrict Australia’s growth potential.

"Despite the lack of talent, standing still is not an option. CEOs committed to driving growth need to win the race for talent or risk being overtaken by the competition," Mr Vorster said.
Mr Vorster recommends undertaking a work force planning review to identify the critical skills employers require now and in the future.

"The good news is that Australia’s education and training providers are keen to collaborate with business to help secure a pipeline of skilled talent. While addressing the supply of talent, employers must also address their own demand. Those that fail to innovate around processes, systems and working practices are going to face a very bleak future,” Mr Vorster said.

The skilled vacancies employers are struggling to fill include:

- Metal fitters and machinists
- Professional engineers
- Business administration managers and accountants
- Metal casting, forging and finishing trades persons.

Mrs Ridout said: "Hugely frustrating to business is the fact that according to more than half of respondents, the reason for these vacancies is a lack of both the occupation specific skills and the underpinning skills and experience among applicants. Also high on the list is the inadequacy of local training options which is affecting the quality of applicants.\

If you would like to view the full release, please download the attachment below.

Last Updated: 


Johnny Sollitt-Davis
Deloitte Australia
Job Title:
Corporate Affairs & Communications
Tel: +61 3 9671 6177, Mobile: 0431 134 850
Anthony Melville
Australian Industry Group
Job Title:
Tel: +61 2 6233 0700, Mobile: +61 419 190 347




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