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You’ve probably heard around the water cooler that there’s a skills shortage at the moment, or that it’s currently a “hot candidate market.”

This isn’t just anecdotal. An article in the AFR highlights the fact that there were nearly 480,100 job vacancies in Australia in May, which was an increase of 13.8 per cent on February. Even more remarkably, the amount of vacant jobs in Australia has more than doubled since August 2020, when it was just over 206,000 (and this figure was already a record high in the context of the past 40 years of recording).

Consider these statistics alongside the current low unemployment rate and you’ve got a job market where it’s incredibly difficult to find talent to fill the positions available. According to the ABC, “a recent OECD report found Australia’s labour shortage was the second-worst among developed nations.”

The COVID crisis has exacerbated existing issues with the inefficiencies of Australia’s skilled migration program, which is an area that businesses are turning to in order to alleviate the skills shortage. Business groups have been advocating for a doubling of skilled migration places to 200,000 and this is something which the new federal government is notionally supporting.

An upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit, set to be held in Canberra on September 1 and 2, will explore this, in addition to several other items of focus; including removing red tape around jobs and immigration; as well as clearing out the significant visa processing backlog.

However, Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus has called out the need for these items to be examined carefully, so as not to create further issues. She is quoted in the AFR saying “We have to change the system to ensure that migrant workers have the same rights and protections as any other Australian worker, and are brought in to fill genuine skill gaps, not to allow employers to evade legal minimum rates of pay or conditions.”

The numbers tell us that it’s never been more difficult for employers to find good people. The proportion of businesses reporting vacancies is another metric that’s currently sitting extremely high at 25.2%.

All of this underscores the importance of using external recruitment professionals for employers to fill roles, particularly specialised positions. A good recruiter has a broad network of contacts and an approach that is unique to them in order to find the right talent. 

External recruitment fees usually work out to be a lot less than the loss of time and income spent vainly trying to find the right person for months on end.

If you’re an organisation that typically hasn’t used external recruitment, yet you’re struggling to find the people to fill your vacant roles, then this is something that’s well worth considering.