Australia’s response to the global skills shortage may provide part of the answer to stubbornly low wages growth as a commitment to training, upskilling and flexible work structures put local employers ahead of their global peers in the war for talent. This finding has come from the ManpowerGroup 2018 Talent Shortage Survey, which asked 39,195 employers around the world – including over 1,500 in Australia – about the extent to which a skills shortage was impacting hiring intentions, which skills are the most difficult to find, and the strategies being adopted to attract and retain skilled labour.
The latest data reveals that the number of Australian employers reporting a lack of skills as a major impediment to hiring has consistently trended down over the last five years, contrary to anecdotal reports, and is now sitting well below the global average at 34 per cent. Furthermore, the results show that this decline has come as the number of firms investing in education and training in response to the skills shortage has tripled over the same period, as well as an increase in alternative work models, i.e. contract, freelance or part-time work. Meanwhile, the number of employers offering higher salary packages as a strategy for closing the skills gap has increased at a much slower rate of just 3 percentage points over the past two years. This Australian data is in stark contrast to the global talent shortage experience with 45 per cent of all employers surveyed around the world reporting they can’t find the skills they need to fill vacant roles.
The findings follow earlier research from the ManpowerGroup Global Candidate Preferences Survey, which revealed a jump in the number of Australians preferring part-time work and flexibility over traditional employment arrangements. In comparison to their global peers who rated compensation as a key priority, Australians reported flexible working arrangements as their top motivator when making career decisions.
Richard Fischer, ManpowerGroup Australia & New Zealand managing director, believes this combination of research provides further insight into sustained low wages growth across the country.
“The number of Australians prioritising part-time work and flexible work arrangements over salary is on the rise,” said Mr Fischer. “Australian employers are steering ahead of global competition for talent by listening to worker preferences and increasing investments in the ongoing training of the current workforce while offering more schedule flexibility. As a result, employers are feeling less pressure to increase wages as they meet other workforce needs.”
Australian employers report that the most difficult skillsets to find require a blend of both technical skills and human strengths and are responding with increased training and upskilling opportunities for their workforce. Skilled Trades ranked as the most in-demand role across Australia, followed by Sales Representatives and Engineers.
“It is time for a new approach to attracting, recruiting and retaining talent,” said Mr Fischer. “In addition to ongoing training and workplace flexibility, employers need to buy skills where necessary, borrow from external sources and help people with adjacent skills bridge from one role to another. We need to be builders of talent in order to create the jobs of the future.”