Skill shortages are becoming more evident in Australia

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Skill shortages are becoming more evident in Australia, at least according to the firms surveyed in the latest National Australia Bank’s (NAB) quarterly business survey.

This chart shows the increase in the number of firms reporting difficulties finding suitably skilled staff in the latest survey, overlaid against Australia’s unemployment rate.

The NAB has flipped the scale on the former to show the relationship between the two.

Source: NAB

In the December quarter last year, more than 50% of firms indicated that they had trouble finding suitable staff, something the NAB says bodes well for those looking for a larger wage increase.

“In an encouraging sign for future wages growth, firms indicated that it became significantly more difficult for them to find suitable labour,” it says, adding that this has been a “clear trend within the NAB Survey measure since around mid-2015”.

“Given the elevated rate of underemployment in Australia, that result suggests that even though there continues to be a fair degree of slack in the labour market, there may be a deficit of workers with the right skills to match employers’ needs.”

That fits with commentary from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) this week with the bank noting “there are reports that some employers are finding it more difficult to hire workers with the necessary skills”.

So while there may be plenty of unemployed and underemployed workers in Australia, not all have suitable skills to fill available positions.

The deficit is not great news for lower-skilled workers, but it is for those lucky enough to possess the skills currently in demand by firms.

For them, they’re in a position where they have “the skills to pay the bills”.