THE ROBOTS AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH: Australia is on the verge of a shortage in skilled talent

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  • Australian companies are forecast to be faced with a talent shortage of 739,000 highly skilled workers by 2020.
  • Korn Ferry’s Talent Crunch report highlights the significant divide between supply and demand for highly-skilled workers.
  • By 2030, the skills deficit is forecast to rise to 2.2 million highly skilled workers.

Australia will have a skilled talent shortage running to hundreds of thousands of people in 2020, according to analysis by organisational consulting firm Korn Ferry.

The analysis reveals a significant divide between supply and demand for highly-skilled workers and the potentially damaging effect on the Australian economy.

Korn Ferry says it appears Australian business leaders are misinterpreting the value of technology and automation in filling this labour deficit.

The shortage of 739,000 highly skilled workers by 2020 means $US162.35 billion ($A228.31 billion) in unrealised revenue by 2020, according to Korn Ferry’s Talent Crunch report.

By 2030, the deficit is forecast to rise to 2.2 million highly skilled workers.

The Korn Ferry analysis echoes other recent research, as the unemployment rate stays at a low 5%, with more full-time jobs being created than part-time.

The October Australian Business Confidence survey by the National Australia Bank shows the majority of businesses reported difficulties in finding suitable labour.

And a report by the Manpower group says one-third (34%) of employers say they can’t fill open jobs.

The Australian talent shortage figure compares to a global average of 45%. Now in its 12th year, the ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage research is the largest global human capital survey of its kind.

And the Reserve Bank of Australia reports shortages of specialised skills which, the central bank says, will eventually mean better wage growth.

In the Korn Ferry report, more than half (54%) of Australia’s C-suite believe their companies are safe from the talent crunch, predicting there will either be enough or even surplus skilled talent in Australia’s labour market at 2030.

And almost three-quarters of those surveyed believe technology will surpass people as their greatest value creator by 2030.

However, Korn Ferry argues that while robotics and machine learning will automate a range of functions, changing the nature of jobs and employment, there will still be a need for highly-skilled individuals to manage, apply and enhance automation.

The Talent Crunch report also found that Australian companies could find themselves subject to an average pay premium of $US28,600 ($A40,220) per highly skilled worker by 2030 on top of inflation.

“Leaders that prioritise building a highly-skilled talent pipeline will shield their companies from the worst effects of the talent crunch, which include constrained growth, paying a premium for mission-critical talent, and fighting with competitors in the same shallow pool,” says Andrew Lafontaine, Head of Organisational Strategy Practice, Korn Ferry ANZ.

“With the rate and extent of transformation we are seeing in the market, leaders must focus on what makes their organisation unique to employees, both in terms of the company’s core purpose and the rewards they can offer people – beyond a salary.”

“Quite simply, companies that fail to forecast, develop, and evolve their talent management strategies will stumble into the future of work blind to its realities, and without the time to make up lost ground.”