Most Aussie employers struggle to fill skills gaps – report

Most Aussie employers struggle to fill skills gaps – report

Almost half of businesses hire new to fill skills gaps, rather than upskill existing staff, a new study shows.

In May last year, the Good Careers Guide revealed there are some high-demand occupations lacking an adequate supply of graduates. Among the jobs currently taking up space on the Skilled Occupations List are ICT, science and media-related jobs.

To tackle the skills shortage, Australian universities are working with government agencies and industry bodies to develop courses and training suitable for the market. However, a new study by RMIT Online suggests this may be an uphill battle.

RMIT Online’s whitepaper, ‘LEARN. WORK. REPEAT: The value of lifelong learning in professional industries’ – published in collaboration with Deloitte Access Economics – reaffirmed concerns over the growing digital skills gap in Australia.

Significantly, 88% of employers said they find it hard to get employees with the skills they need, but 15% of surveyed businesses in professional industries have no means of addressing skill shortages within their own organisation.

The survey delved into employers’ perceptions of the value of lifelong learning for businesses and individuals, polling over 600 Australian businesses in professional industries.

Another key finding from the study revealed that 49% of businesses approach skill shortages within their organisation by hiring new employees and just 45% of businesses mediate the issue by delivering education and training internally.

This is despite the fact that the cost of replacing a bad hiring decision within six months is two and a half times the person’s salary. Over two-thirds (68%) of professional employers surveyed believed the benefits are shared roughly equally between the individual and the business overall

Helen Souness, CEO of RMIT Online says that the recommendations in the whitepaper highlight the urgent need to adapt with a rapidly evolving workforce culture and demand.

“The evolution of work is charging full steam ahead and Australia’s global competitiveness is on the line,” Souness said.

“The findings in our whitepaper offer an optimistic glimpse into the future of work and industry 5.0, where lifelong learning can unlock the potential of emerging technologies, flying in the face of fears that “robots will take our jobs”.

Souness said this new environment is one “where individuals thrive and succeed through self-expansion and constant reinvention enabled by lifelong learning”.

“While this will require a shift in traditional ways of thinking, it represents an exciting opportunity for growth, both on an economic and personal level, that continues well beyond the years we spend in school or university,” she said.

RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE said the University was outspoken about its mission to prepare students for life and work – not just to get a job.

“We know the future of work will demand new skills and a greater focus on resilience, adaptability, creativity and more,” he said.

“That’s why we’re continuously adapting, providing fit-for-purpose-education in emerging in-demand fields and retraining students at pace. Students can visit, return, or top-up on demand and that’s exactly what an evolving, disrupted workplace requires”.