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Skills shortages a major issue in the Hunter

Release Date: 26/08/2019
Over half of businesses in NSW and the Hunter region are experiencing skill shortages, according to the 2019 Workforce Skills Survey, released by the state’s peak business organisation, the NSW Business Chamber.
Results of the survey have been released to coincide with the start of National Skills Week.
“The Workforce Skills Survey findings are clear – more must be done to train the next generation to ensure the economy has the requisite skills to sustain existing and future economic activity,” said Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes.
“National Skills Week is an important opportunity to consider and commit to actions necessary to ensure we have the workforce of the future and that we engage with students, jobseekers and businesses more effectively.
“About 55 per cent of businesses surveyed in the Hunter region reported skills shortages, although the figure for the Hunter excluding Newcastle was 64 per cent – the second highest of all regions.
“The prospect of shortages over the next 12 months was also a significant concern for businesses in the Hunter beyond Newcastle, with 61.4 per cent nominating impending shortages as an issue, compared with 43.4 per cent statewide.”
Hunter businesses surveyed reported the highest number of vacancies per workplace, with an average of seven FTE (fulltime equivalent) vacancies. One quarter of Hunter businesses reported that the skills shortage was having a significant negative impact on their business, compared with 20.3 per cent statewide.
The most common reason for skills shortages reported by businesses across the Hunter was a lack of applicants with suitable skills.
“While the number of businesses across the state experiencing a skills shortage in 2019 is slightly lower than in 2017, those businesses experiencing skill shortages are carrying more job vacancies, (82,000 in 2019, compared to 54,000 in 2017),” Mr Hawes said.
“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.
“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.
“To help address skill shortages in NSW, 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.
 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,’’ Mr Hawes said.
“Over 60 per cent of businesses reported that they would be interested in supporting more school students into work, and over 40 per cent are interested in employing more apprentices and trainees.”

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