Shortage of skilled workers needs to be addressed

Skilled worker shortage on the Central Coast, according to the Business Chamber. Image: Supplied.

Paula Martin, the Regional Director of the NSW Business Chamber, Central Coast, says more needs to be done to nip the Coasts shortage of skilled workers in the bud before the region reaches endemic levels of shortage across all trades and services.

Martins call to action comes after the 2019 Workforce Skills Survey, conducted by the NSW Business Chamber, revealed the skills shortage. The Workforce Skills Survey findings are clear and National Skills Week gives us the opportunity to consider and commit to actions that ensure we are building the workforce of the future, said Martin.

Doing what we’ve always done isn’t working, we have a perfect storm of stubbornly high levels of youth unemployment but businesses are crying out for staff. In two short years, we have seen a big increase in job vacancies for those businesses experiencing skill shortages, 82,000 in 2019, compared to 54,000 in 2017.

We must address the mismatch between the skills young people are obtaining and the skills businesses require, starting with ensuring that schools are making students aware of, and promoting, the breadth of options available during and after schooling, and providing more exposure to meaningful work experience, Martin said.

To help address skill shortages, the Chamber is calling for: A doubling of the number of school-based apprenticeships delivered in NSW each year, currently QLD delivers almost four times as many as NSW; Industry-based careers advice for students and parents from Year 9 for all schools across NSW; and, Increased utilisation of existing TAFE facilities and resources to boost training outcomes.

The new Regional Industry Education Partnerships will hopefully go some way towards increasing school, student and family engagement with local industries, but we must do even more to develop ongoing partnerships.

Half of businesses who responded to the survey reported that they would be interested in supporting more school students into work, and about 40 per cent are interested in employing more apprentices and trainees, Martin said.

Sources: Media release, Aug 26 Paula Martin, NSW Business Chamber Central Coast