Business planning, Legal, Management

Businesses struggle to operate amid skills shortage: Report

Michelle Hammond /

Businesses are continuing to feel the pinch of the skills shortage, with a survey revealing two in five Australian businesses are struggling to recruit despite a major drop in job vacancies.

 

The Bankwest Skills Shortage Survey, released today, surveyed approximately 800 individuals in key business roles to assess their perspective of the current state of skills shortages.

 

The survey assessed various aspects of skills supply in Australia including ease of finding suitably skilled workers, in addition to the impact this has on the way businesses operate.

 

According to the survey, businesses are being dealt a double blow as highly skilled candidates become harder to find, which, in turn, has lengthened recruitment timeframes.

 

Bankwest business chief executive Ian Corfield, says this can lead to dire consequences.

 

“Businesses are clearly feeling the pinch of the skills shortage, with 41% reporting that it takes more than three months longer to recruit staff than it did a year ago,” Corfield says.

 

“Nationally, while sales worker and professional positions are easier to recruit for than they were two years ago, machinery operators and driver positions have become harder to fill.”

 

“This is mostly due to many candidates with these skills opting to work in mining towns where the pay is more lucrative.”

 

In addition, more businesses are now finding it harder to find candidates with three to seven years of experience than they did in 2010 (44.7% compared to 39.7%).

 

However, 59.1% of respondents find it easier to fill positions requiring less than two years of experience compared to 52.6% in 2010, suggesting there is a strong pool of younger workers.

 

“There is a larger pool of inexperienced candidates on the job hunt – graduates or those looking for their second job,” Corfield says.

 

“More experienced employees, who tend to have greater financial responsibilities, appear to be more reluctant to switch jobs as they wait out the economic uncertainty.”

 

“Businesses are… therefore doing what they can to attract skilled performers, whether it’s improving benefits packages or recruiting workers from interstate and overseas.”

 

The survey reveals businesses are increasingly using tactics to attract the best talent, with nearly half increasing basic pay rates, and a quarter offering additional financial incentives and benefits.

 

However, the lack of available talent is having a negative impact on businesses.

 

Often existing employees have to work longer hours to make up for the shortfall in manpower, with two-thirds (66.7%) of businesses reporting an increase in overtime.

 

The survey also found that close to a quarter of businesses admit to error rates increasing, while 22.6% are being forced to turn down new work due to lack of capacity.

 

“Businesses are in the difficult position of having to turn new work away – a tough decision to make given the uncertain economic environment,” Corfield says.

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