The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, but businesses worry about worsening skills shortages, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said. As reported in The Guardian, job vacancies in the Australian labour market have not just recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic; they’ve doubled.
The sectors with the most significant absolute number of job vacancies are healthcare and social assistance (68,900), accommodation and food services (51,900), and professional scientific and technical services (42,900). In terms of the growth in vacancies since COVID-19, arts and recreation lead the way at 250% of pre-pandemic levels, followed by accommodation and food services, then real estate. Construction rates highly by both measures, with 39,900 vacancies, 140% of pre-pandemic levels.
Calculating the vacancy rate as vacancies expressed as a proportion of total jobs, Jim Stanford, the Director of the Centre for Future Work, said the sectors most strapped for workers are: administration and support (8.9%), hospitality (5.7%), wholesale trade (5.2%) and real estate (4.3%).
According to Andrew McKellar, Chief Executive for ACCI, the unemployment drop rate is a good sign for Australia’s labour market. Still, the gap between the number of unemployed people and job vacancies has narrowed to just 14,000, emphasising the severity of the jobs crisis. As a result, the country’s workforce shortage went from “bad to worse”, given the unemployment rate falling much faster than anticipated.
“Businesses are facing enormous pressures to recruit and retain local workers, but the reality is they’re running out of options,” said McKellar. “As a matter of urgency, we must reduce the barriers for people who want to work, ramp up low levels of permanent and temporary skilled migration, and drive investment in training to help abate the chronic workforce shortages across the economy,” he adds.