Australian Skills Shortage : What you need to know

What is a skills shortage?

Did you know that there is an Australian Skills Shortage? A skill shortage exists when employers are unable to fill or have considerable difficulty filling job vacancies. Basically, there are certain occupations that have true vacancies, but there are just not enough skilled workers in Australia to fill them.  For occupations assessed at a national level, a rating of S, represents a national shortage.  There may also be recruitment difficulties, a rating of D, contributing to a skills shortage in certain occupational groups.  While there may be an adequate supply of skilled workers in Australia, some employers are unable to attract and recruit sufficient numbers of workers.  This can include a lack of specific experience (number of years), limited specialized skills, shift work requirements or living in remote locations.  Please note:

S – Indicates a State-wide Shortage

D – Indicates a Recruitment Difficulty.

These figures were obtained from:


The current occupation groups in short supply (S):  

  • Air-conditioning Mechanics
  • Architects
  • Bakers, Chefs (Regionally) & Pastry Cooks
  • Bricklayers, Painters, Plumbers, Carpenters & Cabinetmakers
  • Construction Estimator
  • Hairdressers
  • Locksmiths
  • Motor Mechanics, Panel Beaters, Metal Machinists
  • Surveyors
  • Veterinarians

The current occupation groups that have recruitment difficulties (D):

  • Electrician (Queensland)
  • Occupational Therapists (Regionally)
  • Structural Engineers
  • Solicitors


What does this mean?

The majority of occupations are trade-based; however, a few require tertiary qualifications.  It could imply that the younger generation are not following the family business in trades or undertaking an apprenticeship because of the length of time involved.  Consequently, Hairdressers and Air-conditioning Mechanics have been on the shortage list for at least three years.

It could also be interpreted that the next generation of workers (15-25 years of age) are not interested in studying for long periods.  This is particularly relevant to Law, Vet Science and Architecture.  The Australian Federal Government reviews the ratings listed above each year, and the skills shortage does not mean that an individual will necessarily gain employment.  It comes down to experience, individual motivation, attributes and suitability to the job.

Above all if these jobs continue to be in demand, certain occupational groups will decline. Therefore small business owners and people nearing retirement will feel the pressure.  Immigrants could help resolve these issues and young people who have a genuine career interest in applying trade-based skills.  The future of work is not all about the robots!