The current inability of education, immigration and training programs in the current population may not be able to meet the skilled workers demand in the future. This is the second time to occur in the decade and this gulf between demand and supply may limit the growth of Australia.
The financial recession did not weaken the country’s employment market though it constrained the pressure to increase wages due to lack of warm skilled bodies for industry. The labor sector continued to increase despite the fiscal downturn felt by the world economy, with 2009 being the lowest increase. Once the pall had lifted, the government through its economic stimulus programs covered the slack and has continued on its growth rate.
In the third quarter of the last year, unemployment peaked at nearly six percent and has now gone down to a point over five percent in 2009. This was the same unemployment level as of 2005, the time of greatest economic growth of the country.
Despite the low unemployment rate, the lack of skilled workers in key infrastructure industries may eventually hamper infrastructure projects already in the pipeline. One of the key industries affected would be mining according to the Global Managing Partner of executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles, Jim Hayman. The lack of senior management qualified individuals has already resulted in a year to year increase in remuneration packages in the country at a rate of twenty five percent annually.
”Companies are willing to pay thousands more to get the right person. If it means that the project isn’t delayed then it is viewed as money well spent because it could save millions of dollars down the track,” he said.
Another industry leader, Jim Barrett of the Australian Constructor’s Association has predicted that the current skilled workers blight would cast a long shadow on the commercial and residential building sectors. This is to be highlighted in the association’s Construction Outlook, a biannual report by the association showing trends and forecasts in the industry.
”There are definitely going to be skills shortages and in fact those skill shortages are probably there at the moment,” he said.
”Often people focus on lower-level skills but in fact the high-level technical skills [and] specialist project management skills … are absolutely essential to the development of a lot of these projects that are on the drawing board,” he said.