According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of unemployed people seeking work has fallen from 2.2 million in 2021 to 1.8 million in 2022. However, in the age of digitalisation, the need for more skilled workers and an educated workforce is in higher demand, creating a skills gap between the existing workforce and the needed workforce. Some of the current barriers to work include 1) skills mismatch – finding the right people with the appropriate skillset has become difficult, 2) poor health – a lot of people are still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19, 3) long-term unemployment as a result of initial job loss and lack of skills following this, 4) access to childcare & transport has been cited as a long-term impact of not returning to work for new parents, as well as 5) demographic changes and the impacts of the ageing population on the workforce.
In recognition of this, as part of the National Skills Agreement (NSA), the Australian Government has provisioned for an additional AUD $3.7 billion (2.5 billion EUR) as part of the 2023-23 budget, in addition to the $8.3 billion spent on the Workforce Development Specific Purpose Payment. This funding is intended to transform the way all state government support vocational education and training, making it consistent across the board. Comparatively to Europe, this is on par with funding seen in Germany and Spain, where funding for workforce development, adult education, and skills development is equally high.
Although skill gaps exist in everywhere in Australia, sectors taking the biggest hits include technology, trades, construction, engineering, HR, and mining. This is not including the 265 priority jobs with future demand identified by the National Skills Commission Skills Priority List, and 153 jobs in demand right now. At least 64% or organisations in Australia say skills shortages are impacting the current effective operations of their organisation or department, which in turn is impeding post-pandemic growth and realisation of most businesses, especially those relying on low-skilled workers and migrants.