How to survive a skills shortage

As an employer, you’re probably aware of the growing challenge to find skilled workers. In 2021, there were 153 Australian occupations suffering skills shortages. In 12 months, that number has almost doubled to 286 according to the National Skills Commission’s  recent annual update. 

The Federal government has been forced to take measures to address the issue. Namely, they’ve increased the migration cap by 35,000 to get more skilled workers into the country and committed an additional $1 billion for fee-free TAFE in 2023. But will these measures provide a sufficient long-term solution?  

Some of Australia’s leading employers, including Toll, Deloitte and Sigma Healthcare, insist a commitment to training and educating Australia’s local and current workforce is the way to go. There are several benefits that come from training your existing staff, but now it’s become an imperative to ensure your workforce is as reliable and capable as you need it to be.  

1. Training courses are painless and plentiful 

Training used to be a one-time event. Start the job, learn the basics and you’re on your way! Increasingly, that’s not what employees are looking for. In a recent survey conducted by My Pathway, we found that nearly half of all workers considered development, training, and education as a tool to increase their workplace contribution and provide purpose in their chosen career.   

If employees feel like they’re contributing more, or that they have a purpose, they’re more engaged. An engaged workforce means less turnover, better morale, and a more productive environment for your business.   

There are plenty of options to access training and education, including support for specific groups and financial subsidies.  If your investigating training for your workforce, set aside some time to research what may be available to your business, sector and employees. Try starting with your State Government’s small business department for the latest training developments. 


  2. Tailored recruitment removes the hassle 

Finding and retaining great staff can be challenging, time intensive and expensive. That’s never been truer, as the skills shortage and low unemployment combine to create an employee’s market. So why not let someone else handle recruitment for you?  

Labour hire and recruitment agencies exist to match qualified, skilled staff with employers who need them. You can feel confident knowing that the person you’re investing in is capable and work-ready. The process will reduce the resources to hire new staff. You can aviod spending time reviewing resumes, checking references, or going through a lengthy interview process; the recruiter will do that work for you. 

When you recruit from an employment program provider, like My Pathway, you can access a network of workers available to meet a range of employment typesThe candidate pools are often diverse and you’ll be providing an opportunity that could make a big difference to someone who has been long-term unemployed, people with a disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders or other vulnerable groups. Employment program participants will generally receive on-the-job support too, helping to immerse them in your business with the equipment and knowledge that’s needed. You may even be eligible for incentives and wage subsidies.  

3. Tap into new talent pools

If neither of those options sound right for you, then forget looking for external solutions… maybe it’s time to turn your attention inward. Are you advertising your roles effectively enough? Is the perfect candidate already working for you? 

Job ads are often so black-and-white that they may be restricting your pool of potential applicants. After all, a job advertisement is just that; you’re selling the role to a prospective employee. A recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers indicated that employees’ values are changing… good co-workers, flexible working conditions and autonomy in their role are usually underrated by employers. Consider selling these parts of your business to attract better candidates.  

But you may not even have to advertise to find the best person for the role. Your star employee could be working for you already. Don’t be afraid to reconfigure positions around the strengths and talents of the people you employ, and consider if they have any transferrable skills that could complement the role you want to fill. 


While the skills shortage shows no sign of slowing down, ensuring your workforce is as capable as it can be is a priority.   

If you would like more information on anything we’ve covered above, contact us to find out more. 

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