New research shows Australia’s skills supply and demand picture remains patchy.


The Skill Shortages Summary publication released by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) found while employers experienced more difficulty last year recruiting workers in resource professions than in 2009, for some professions employers found recruitment easier.


This report highlights the challenges of a "patchwork economy" - an economy that has pockets of skills shortages while at the same time, others sectors are meeting their skill demands with relative ease.


In 2010, while employers found it easier to recruit Building Associates, Engineering Associates, and Health Diagnostic and Therapy Professions, shortages of health professions remained relatively widespread.


The report also shows that School Teachers, Accountants, Building Associates and Social Professionals had the highest proportion of vacancies filled, with all recording more than three-quarters of vacancies filled.


However it is clear that other sectors are experiencing difficulty. The automotive and construction trades and child care occupations saw the most significant falls in the proportion of vacancies filled, down 19, 13 and 12 percentage points respectively. 


The most challenging vacancies to fill were in resource professions, which includes occupations such as geologists and mining engineers, with 45 per cent filled.


The results are consistent with other labour market indicators such as the recent National Centre for Vocational Educational Research (NCVER) report Skill shortages in the trades during economic downturns which found skills shortages are closely linked to the economic cycle, the ABS Labour Force Survey data on employment and unemployment levels, and the DEEWR Internet Vacancy Index, showing that there is a significant variation across occupations and locations.


The report also found there was no change in the labour market for Professions in 2010 compared with 2009. There was also a 15 percentage point rise in the proportion of vacancies filled for Accountants between 2009 and 2010. The Summary is based on research conducted before the flood crisis in Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania.


The Australian Government’s $660 million Skills for Sustainable Growth initiative is helping to address immediate skills needs in the Australian economy.


This investment will drive reform in the Vocational Education and Training sector and assist Australians with poor literacy and numeracy skills by increasing the availability of training places in Foundation Skills programs, providing greater support for participants.


The Government is working together with industry, employers, the states and territories and Australian Apprenticeships Centres to support Australian Apprenticeships and related programs.


A record number of Australians are undertaking apprenticeships and training and estimates by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research in December 2010 show a strong increase in trades commencements.


Additionally, the Government’s four-year Skills for Sustainable Growth package has $200 million for the new Critical Skills Investment Fund, to help train up to 39,000 people to support sectors facing high skills demand.


The DEEWR Skills Shortages Summary is available at