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A quarter of businesses unable to find suitable staff

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of Australian businesses are having difficulty finding suitable staff, according to survey results released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Head of Industry Statistics, John Shepherd, said the latest Business Conditions and Sentiments Survey, conducted from 9 to 16 June, showed there were several reasons why employers were struggling to find suitable staff to fill jobs.

“The most frequently reported reason was a lack of applicants (74 per cent), followed by applicants not having the required skills (66 per cent), international border closures (32 per cent) and job location (29 per cent).”

“Businesses reported having difficulty finding suitable hospitality workers, sales staff, engineering and science professionals and drivers. Other in demand jobs included building trades and business professionals,” Mr Shepherd said.

“The survey also found that 19 per cent of businesses reported that, based on current operations, they didn’t have sufficient employees.

“Notable factors influencing staff numbers for these businesses were the inability to find suitable staff (57 per cent) and the affordability of additional staff (48 per cent).”

Looking forward, 23 per cent of businesses expected to increase staff numbers over the next three months. For those anticipating an increase in staff, 61 per cent expected the additional jobs to be permanent.

Businesses reported on changes in their number of employees over the last month and expected changes over the next month. This information has been collected each month since July 2020.

In June, 8% of businesses reported an increase in their number of employees; and 11% of businesses are expecting an increase in their number of employees in July.

In June, 19% of employing businesses reported that they did not have enough employees based on current operations, compared to 12% in March 2021 and 15% in December 2020.

Factors influencing businesses with staff shortages

The 19% of businesses that had an insufficient number of employees reported on factors that were influencing the number of staff they had. The most common factors reported by these businesses were:

  • inability to find suitable staff (57%);
  • affordability of additional staff (48%);
  • uncertainty due to COVID-19 (42%);
  • availability of existing employees to work (34%);
  • domestic border closures (19%);
  • difficulty retaining staff (19%); and
  • international border closures (18%).

Key statistics

  • In June, 27% of businesses reported having difficulty finding suitable staff to fill jobs.
  • Almost one in five (19%) businesses did not have enough staff based on current operations.
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of businesses expect to increase staff numbers over the next three months.

This is the final Business Conditions and Sentiments release. For further information, please see Changes to ABS statistical work program. A summary of question themes included in each monthly release between March 2020 to June 2021 is available in Data downloads.

The June collection was conducted through a telephone based survey between 9 June and 16 June. Victoria was affected by government imposed restrictions during this collection period which took effect from 11:59pm on 27 May. Some restrictions were eased from 11:59pm on 10 June.

In responding to the survey, businesses are asked to provide a best estimate only, without accessing records or reports.

Business size categories used in this release:

  • Small (0-19 persons employed);
  • Medium (20-199 persons employed); and
  • Large (200 or more persons employed).

The data highlights the depth of skills shortages hampering Australia’s economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

Other factors include technological changes causing major transformation to work structures, work organisation and work roles.

The expansion of the skilled migration is welcome move to ease some pressures on businesses. Further certainty on borders is needed.

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