Meeting Demand

INDUSTRY INSIDER – Julie Mills, APSCo Australia managing director on the challenge of talent.

The latest Skilled Occupation Lists are due any day now and APSCo is acutely aware, through our regular discussions with members that skills shortage, war for talent, decline in visas granted and low unemployment are a perfect storm for increasing the challenges of those who want to deliver the best talent solutions to drive Australia’s healthy economy.

In the face of global competition for talent, in an environment where digital transformation and complex infrastructure projects are on the agenda of the government and private sector alike, gaps are appearing in the talent availability across a number of specialisms. As this demand starts to grow and available talent becomes harder to find or less keen to move roles, frustration for government, corporates and the professional staffing and recruitment sector increases and relationships become difficult.

New technologies and platforms are opening up the way talent looks for roles and so there are opportunities to reach potential candidates or, alternatively for them to connect with job opportunities. But, in a global marketplace this can prove challenging when opportunities to work in Australia are restricted.

Current reports suggest there will be a high demand for, and short supply of local talent in highly specialised roles, as the Australian talent supply is already actively engaged in work and often cannot be deployed elsewhere due to the nature of the work – no matter the incentive.

Emerging and established areas are high on the radar including, in no particular order, cyber security at many levels, DevOps specialists, civil design engineers, business intelligence, data analytics, digital transformation, robotics and artificial intelligence specialists at the top of a long list. The Professional Staffing Trends Reports have tracked this for some time and the demand/supply is moving to a skewed demand and longer time to supply metric very quickly.

When the Skilled Occupations lists are published the other concerning factor is that there are new skill requirements being reported in various sectors on a regular basis that are either hybrid roles or focus on emerging skills in, drone navigation, for example that don’t make it to any job classification list so are often lost in the process.

There has been increased reporting of refusal of visas, even for those who are endorsed by the Department of Home Affairs, for what seem on the surface to be items that are easy to correct. There is definitely more scrutiny and reputations can be quickly damaged if it is assumed you are not following due process.

Borderline for consultants

Recruitment consultants, as a skilled occupation, are still sitting on the borderline – in or out - each time the list is published and the remuneration caveat plus qualification requirements are making this almost a no go zone for many companies.

APSCo continues to provide evidence to government from our Staffing Trends data, our member surveys, anecdotal feedback and with several new initiatives, we aim to strengthen the argument for certain specialisms and to establish a stronger benchmark for the recruitment consultant analysis, as the HR focus of this category is fundamentally flawed.

We don’t dispute training Australians is important, nor do we dispute that jobs for Australians is important, but when the talent isn’t there alternatives have to be found – fast tracking the education of those for highly skilled roles is not an option. Interestingly, clients come to our sector in many cases when they have exhausted all options and we are expected to find a different talent source than the ones they have accessed.

Data from a survey conducted by APSCo Affiliate member, Entity Solutions, uncovered the following regarding their customers demand for overseas talent:

  • Entity Solutions’ customers advised that the percentage of their overseas workforce ranged from 8-14 per cent and continues to trend up.
  • Of those roles they found challenging, 80 per cent of respondents said that they advertise for them more than eight times a year.
  • 50 per cent of respondents said
  • 100 per cent said that there were NO suitable candidates for those roles.
  • The Top three reasons given for not being suitable are:
    1. Not enough experience
    2. No relevant skills
    3. No relevant qualification

Recruiters are innovative, entrepreneurial and think outside the box. We know that the skilled talent is there, we cannot rely on overseas talent as easily as in the past so we have to dig deeper, capture emerging talent, and be creative in our multi-channel approaches. Bullhorn’s Simon Greening published an excellent article on this very subject recently and his comments on underused talent pools are a timely reminder to everyone.


APSCo Australia Across the MD's Desk: The rules around visas and skilled migration are a moving feast – Entity Solutions – December 19, 2018

How recruiters can overcome Australia’s talent shortage – Simon Greening, Bullhorn

How your remuneration data can help maintain recruitment consultant on the skilled occupation lists – Julie Mills, APSCo Australia

Skilled Occupation List Mid Year_Annexure_APSCo_06 2018