Australian businesses suffer skills shortage

Date: Apr 18, 2012

Businesses throughout the country are finding it difficult to deal with skills shortages, which is having an impact on their recruitment activities.

Data from the second Bankwest Skills Shortage Survey reveals that two in five Australian companies are unable to recruit as it is problematic to locate the right people for the job.

As a result, the recruitment process takes more time than they would like - 41 per cent reported that it now takes three months longer to take on staff than it did a year ago.

In some cases, firms are forced to turn away business - a decision that is not taken lightly in such a difficult economic climate.

Bankwest Business chief executive Ian Corfield indicated that companies may soon find themselves needing the services of migration lawyers so they can find the right staff for their operations.

"Businesses are seeing this as a significant issue and are therefore doing what they can to attract skilled performers, whether it's improving benefits packages or recruiting workers from interstate and overseas," he commented.

One of the affected sectors is the mining industry, with 41.1 per cent of respondents in Western Australia and Queensland plugging the skills gap with interstate workers and those from overseas.

Many companies said they find it difficult to recruit from outside the CBD, as twice as many respondents from these states reported problems attracting staff to remote locations than the rest of Australia.

Gina Rinehart recently made a public call for more migrant workers to be encouraged to come to Australia, as a labour shortage is having a negative impact on major resource projects.

Mr Corfield identified that some industries find it more difficult to locate staff than others - sales worker and professional positions are now easier to fill than they were two years ago.

On the other hand, driver positions and machinery operators have become more difficult to locate, perhaps because candidates choose to work in mining towns where the pay is generally better.

The majority of the businesses surveyed (85.8 per cent) said they are directly impacted by the skills shortage, with 66.7 per cent of employees working longer hours and 22.6 per cent turning down customers.

In order to keep staff on board, 47.8 per cent of respondents said they had improved pay rates and 25.5 per cent offered additional benefits.

Companies on the east coast were found to have the greatest difficulty filling positions.