Employer market' will not last

Health sector shortage

By Kate Southam

In the next decade health professionals and teachers will retire in larger numbers than newly

qualified replacements will hit the job market, according to the latest Clarius Skills Index.

For every 110 health professionals who retire, only 84 qualified people will join the

workforce. The health sector jobs include GPs, nurses, pharmacists, vets and dieticians. In the

education sector, for every 107 people retiring, only 73 qualified people will be available to

fill their shoes.

And Clarius forecasts that 18 per cent of engineering professionals will retire in the next few


Clarius Group CEO Kym Quick says with so much economic uncertainty sending jitters through the

current job market it is easy to forget what lies ahead when an aging workforce overlaps with

economic growth.

Ms Quick says that in 1998 less than 8.3 per cent of the labour force was aged between 55 and

65 years while today that age group accounts for 13.8 per cent of the workforce.

The Clarius Skills Index uses a ranking system where 100 represent a balance of supply and

demand. The June quarterly index was in balance while the September ranking measured 99.7 in

favour of supply after the entry of 8,500 skilled people into the jobs market. That figure is

based on employment demand and newly qualified people entering the market.

The Clarius Skills Index for Tradespersons remained unchanged during the September quarte and

the number of occupations with skills shortages shrank from eight to seven. The occupations

currently experiencing shortages of skilled labour were:

Mechanical and Fabrication Engineering Tradespersons (112.2 in the Sep Q; 108.9 in the Jun Q);
Chefs (107.8 in Sep; 105.3 Jun);
Automotive Tradespersons (103.7 Sep; 103.8 Jun);
Hairdressers (101.8 Sep; 101.1 Jun);
Food Tradespersons (101.1 Sep; 101.8 Jun);
Computing Professionals (100.4 Sep; 100.5 Jun); and
Wood Tradespersons (100.3 Sep; 102.6 Jun).

Ms Quick says in the current market many employers are opting for contractors and temporary

staff rather than permanent hires but that there were “clear indications” that the employment

market would recover and that demand for skills would be higher than ever.  

“The reality now is that the problem of skills gaps persists in seven of the 20 occupations

surveyed and will re-emerge for many others once the economy picks up pace and hiring follows


Ms Quick says the projections of skill shortfalls in sectors such as health and education could

worsen if enrolments to relevant courses fall and or employers fail to convince older workers

to stay in the workforce past retirement age.

She says employers should remember the critical skill shortages of 2007 just before the GFC


“Back then employers were prepared to hire on attitude and train and develop a new recruit in

the technical skills required. Since the GFC, training and development budgets have been cut

and employers instead want the perfect fit candidate.”

As well as being prepared to develop the current crop of employees, organisations also have to

ensure they find a way to transfer the knowledge and skills of older workers to a new

generation before they leave the business.

CareerOne.com.au, November, 2011

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