Get a better wage: Aussies taking advantage of skilled labour shortage

Fact Checked
Updated 27/07/2023

Time to read : 4 Minutes

Australia’s job market is slowly returning to some semblance of normal.

The last couple of years have seen unprecedented demand for skilled employees, caused largely by a lack of skilled migrants returning back post-pandemic, and the large number of businesses shifting to digital and remote practice and process.

Australia is stuck in a skills black hole, with 90% of employers still reporting a dire shortage of qualified candidates, according to the latest Hays Salary Guide.

What does this mean for you? If you play your cards right, a bigger salary package!

Key points (TL;DR):

  • The Australian job market is rebalancing but a continued skills shortage sees 90% of employers struggling to find qualified candidates.

  • Employment rates are rising, but the speed at which job vacancies are being filled remains sluggish.

  • While salary hikes have normalised to an average of 5% from the eye-catching 20% in 2022, there's a renewed focus on filling specific, technical roles.

  • There is a high demand for software development, cybersecurity, and financial controller roles. Jobs for motor mechanics, early childhood teachers, electricians, metal fitters, and physiotherapists are also in high demand.

  • Up-skilling or re-skilling can lead to excellent negotiation opportunities for those with technical skills, relevant experience, a learning mindset, and strong soft skills.

  • A strategic move towards the next job aligns with long-term career goals rather than immediate leaps.

As Jobs and Skills Australia reports, the labour market has shown promising signs of recovery, with employment rates on the rise nationwide and a more balanced recruitment rhythm reestablished in the wake of 2022's fluctuations.

Even so, the rate at which job vacancies are being filled remains somewhat underwhelming, demonstrating some continued lag in comparison to pre-2022 hiring averages.Although the skills shortage has shown a slight improvement recently, Nicole Gorton, Director and Workplace Expert at Robert Half, notes that it remains at historic highs.

Nicole says the job market "is not as buoyant as it was throughout 2022." The scramble for mass hirings and deployment of new technologies seems to have calmed from its 2022 fever pitch.

Salaries, although still competitive, have seen a shift in 2023, given that employees no longer command the attention-grabbing compensation packages of 2022, where employers were seen offering up to a 20% premium.

This year, expect a respectable, but notably reduced, average 5% salary rise.Australian employers' focus has sharpened with an emphasis on strategic targeting of specific, highly technical roles instead of a mad rush to simply increase employee numbers.

Concurrently, job seekers can now afford to weigh options more selectively, splitting into two groups: those willing to put more on the line for startups' potentially greater rewards and those sensibly playing it safe amid increasing living costs.

There are, however, roles that still desperately need filling, especially in fields such as software development, cybersecurity, and financial controllers. Five occupations currently in high demand are motor mechanics, early childhood teachers, electricians, metal fitters, and physiotherapists.

Critical roles, such as GPs and resident medical officers, are also experiencing shortages, particularly in some regional areas.For those prepared to enhance their skillset or consider retraining for a change of career, the opportunities are certainly available.

A helpful hint from Matthew Dickason, CEO Asia Pacific of recruitment and workforce solutions at Hays, "Someone keen on up-skilling or re-skilling should understand that it takes some time."

Career progression doesn't equate to hopping straight into your dream role; it calls for a more strategic approach, where your next job aligns with your long-term career goals.

Dickason suggests critical thinking, agile leadership, and an enhanced understanding of digital and data literacy will be in growing demand over the next decade.

Retraining calls for a long-term game plan and a genuine interest in the field you want to venture into, Gorton adds.

"If you're prepared to train... and prepared to learn, then the rewards can certainly follow."

Given the persisting skills shortage, candidates are in an excellent position for negotiation if they can demonstrate solid technical skills, relevant experience, learning mindset, and steadfast soft skills.

The Bottom Line

While the Australian job market strives to regain stability after a chaotic couple of years, there's no neglecting the gaping skills gap. However, for those ready to seize the opportunity, it could be a time of great career progression and rewards.

Go deeper