Skill shortage for IT will return soon

Skill shortage for IT will return

Skilled workers will soon be in short supply even if overall unemployment continues to rise, a report says.

The Clarius skills index report for the June quarter shows that while skilled job seekers are still struggling to find work, unemployment among the qualified is falling.

Information technology, engineering and accounting professionals are expected to be in short supply within the coming year as firms struggle to find suitably qualified candidates.

About 37,000 qualified candidates were unsuccessful at getting a job in the June quarter, compared with 14,000 previously.

But a closer look at the figures, based on official employment data, showed 124,800 professionals were unemployed in the three months to June 30, compared with 133,700 in the first three months of 2009.

The March quarter’s skilled unemployment tally was the worst since 2001.

Clarius Group executive manager Kym Quick says demand for skilled workers is actually increasing despite the difficult economic environment.

"Even though unemployment numbers are climbing, that’s not necessarily translating to the skilled workforce," she told AAP on Sunday.

Australia has shed 77,000 manufacturing jobs during the past year, but Ms Quick said the story was different in the skilled labour market.

"Predominantly, the skills shortage we have come out of suggests there was a dramatic undersupply going back to 18 months ago and … we’re seeing an evening out of that."

Of the 19 skilled employment categories, seven of them either had an undersupply of labour or an evenly-matched balance with labour demand.

Chefs and hairdressers were in short supply because of the low pay and unsustainable hours, Ms Quick said.

She predicted IT, engineering and accounting professionals would be in short supply during the next six to 12 months as an economic recovery encouraged firms to restart stalled projects.

"It’s still very difficult to get skills in these places," Ms Quick said.

"I would be lying to say it’s an employers’ market."

Australia’s jobless rate is now at a six-year high of 5.8 per cent, with the government expecting it to hit 8.5 per cent by 2011.

Under this scenario, unemployment would rise from 663,000 at present to nearly one million.

Access Economics says unemployment is more likely to peak at 7.5 per cent, but this forecast still has 200,000 people joining the jobless queue.


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