Australia’s skills shortages report released: the professions and locations that need you the most

Posted March 28, 2014, by Julia Watters

If you need a little guidance when choosing a career path, or if you’re looking for a change, checking out where the jobs are is always a good place to start. The Department of Employment recently released their Skills Shortages Australia report for 2013 and it highlights not only the industries that are waiting for recruits, but also the states and territories that are most ripe for the vacant job picking.

The report was undertaken in consultation with over 5,500 employers and utilised data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Department of Education, Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) and the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER). While this data suggests that the past 7 years has seen an increase in vacancies filled nationwide, there are still plenty of skills shortages for those industries that require specialised graduates. A skills shortage is often indicated by a small number of job applicants per advertised position and a large proportion of applicants being under-qualified for the position. This is especially true of trades and other vocational and practical professions across the board.

So what are the best skills to have?

It’s no real surprise, but technicians and trades are in hot demand with vacancies cropping up faster than they can be filled by suitable applicants. The skills that are almost guaranteed to land you work include:

  • Automotive trades – automotive electrician, motor mechanic, small engine mechanic and panelbeater
  • Engineering trades – sheet metal trades worker, motor mechanic, small engine mechanic, panelbeater
  • Construction trades – stone mason, solid plasterer, roof tiler
  • Electrotechnology trades – air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic, electrical linesworker
  • Food trades – chef/cook, baker, pastrycook, butcher
  • Horticultural trades – arborist, landscape gardener

Which professions have the most jobs?

Professions are experiencing less shortages overall, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a niche you can utilise. The professions with the greatest shortages include:

Where are the opportunities located?


State vs state

In 2013, there were a larger number of applicants for all roles across all states and territories, with the exception of South Australia, suggesting that for most states, skills shortages had reduced.

The Northern Territory boasted the largest increase in filled vacancies with all other states and territories following suit, besides Victoria and South Australia whose numbers remained unchanged. However, Darwin still made the list of hard to recruit places, meaning plenty of opportunities for those with the right skills. South Australian employers were found to have the least trouble recruiting with the exception of the state’s regional areas, while New South Wales recruiters experienced the most difficulty of any state or territory, especially in regional areas.

The upshot of this is that, compared to previous years where the mining boom sent opportunities west, there doesn’t appear to be a stand-out state – so no need to pull up stumps just yet.

Metro vs regional

While there don’t appear to be any stand out states, it is clear that regional areas have greater skills shortages than their metropolitan counterparts.

Metro areas attracted more applicants and filled more vacancies than regional areas. In fact, 74 per cent of metro vacancies were filled, and employers in those areas enjoyed an average of 2.4 suitable applicants per vacancy. This compares to regional areas filling just 67 per cent of vacancies and having a slightly lower number of suitable applicants per vacancy at 1.9.

Skills shortages aren’t unusual for regional areas, which often struggle to attract skilled workers. In fact, the New South Wales Government currently incentivises regional relocation with grants offered by the Office of State Revenue. This includes the Skilled Regional Relocation Incentive, which can pay up to $10,000 for skilled workers who are willing to move to regional areas.

Keep on top of it

If you’re a skilled worker looking at entering or re-entering the workforce, knowing where the jobs are will give you the best chance of landing the right job, and the best conditions. You can contact your industry representative group, watch the job ads and keep abreast of industry news with websites and regular newsletters to stay ahead of the pack.

If you’re just starting out and looking around for the best skills to study up on, don’t forget to consider the graduate opportunities before you begin. Keep up to date with our news and views section, sign up to our careers newsletter and browse industry resources for specific stats.

Australia’s skills shortages report released: the professions and locations that need you the most

Wherever you’re at, with online courses now making it easier to train and upskill in a range of industries, chances are you could be contributing to a very positive 2014 report by helping to fill the skills shortages. Go on, your economy needs you!

Julia Watters

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