How to navigate a skills short market

By Robert Half on 30 July 2021

When it comes to skills shortages, Australia is in the grip of a perfect storm. Over the past few months, business confidence and growth has picked up pace, increasing the demand for talent, while lowering unemployment rates and lack of foreign talent is restricting the flow of new skills in the market.

As Robert Half's Demand for Skilled Talent report reveals, over three-quarters (77%) of Australian business leaders are confident about their growth prospects in 2021, while more than half (52%) think it will be more challenging to find qualified employees compared to pre-pandemic conditions.

Where are the skill shortages?

It’s important for employers to recognise that some jobs are also more highly sought-after than others as businesses prioritise the skills they need grow and future-proof their operations and business models.

Currently, several specialised technical skills are in high demand such as cloud platform transformation, DevOps, cyber-security, data security, data analytics, and data visualisation for forecasting.

Many finance and accounting skills are also hotly sought after as companies work towards identifying new commercial opportunities, driving operational efficiencies, and building future business strategies. Business/financial analysis, compliance, financial planning and analysis, risk, and internal audit were cited as some of today’s most hard-to-find finance skills by the Robert Half survey.

For business support roles, Software as a Service skills and Salesforce capabilities have seen a surge in demand amongst employers, as has Email marketing (Mailchimp), Software as a Service skills and social media management for marketers.

What does Australia’s skills shortage mean for employers?

The competition for talent is fierce – not only are there now fewer opportunities for employers to find and onboard the best candidates, but there is also an increased likelihood that businesses will lose their best performing employees to a competitor.

Adjust remuneration and benefits to attract and retain talent

Right now, businesses must focus on their remuneration and benefits to ensure they can continue to attract and retain the necessary talent to sustain growth. Seven-in-ten Australian businesses said they are planning to offer remuneration at higher-than-pre-COVID-19 levels to retain talented staff with crucial skills for post-pandemic recovery.

Keeping on top of industry trends will be critical to successfully navigating skills shortages – especially when 70% of companies in a Robert Half survey said they are open to increasing their initial salary offering to secure new candidates. In a market where the balance of power has tipped in favour of job seekers, remaining ‘on par or better’ than competitor salary offerings will be a ‘must’ for securing new candidates and improving retention.

Aside from salary, employers must move away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to recruitment and develop bespoke offerings that meet the needs of individual employees and candidates. For example, flexible working arrangements, career development opportunities, the chance to work on key projects, and highlighting what makes the organisation a steady and secure employer are all highly valued non-remuneration benefits among candidates in the current market.

Focus on long-term skills development

Employers must also look for ways to future-proof their talent pipeline at a time when recruiting permanent roles from outside will continue to present a major challenge. Building internal systems and processes to develop the skills of existing employees to fill skills gaps, succession planning, and augmenting workforces with an adjustable mix of contract and permanent staff are key strategies for mitigating ongoing skills shortages. Almost half (45%) of companies say record vacancy rates and fierce competition are already driving upskilling and reskilling among existing staff.

Businesses are rapidly transforming to meet changing consumer demands in a post-pandemic market while the Australian economy and business confidence are resurging. Knowing how to negotiate inevitable skills shortages will be critical to achieving critical business goals while the right candidates ensure they don’t miss out on opportunities to boost their career, engagement level, or employment benefits.

For more help and information around how to navigate Australia’s skills shortages, please refer to the Demand for Skilled Talent report for market-leading insights on  skills in demand.

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