Queensland Government research (Skills for Jobs and Growth 2010) identifies that some skill shortages are genuinely due to a lack of skilled workers (e.g., pilots, farm managers) but others are simply due to employers not paying high enough wages to attract skilled staff (e.g., receptionists, sales assistants, bus drivers).
A key challenge facing Anna Bligh’s new Skills Commission is to improve Queensland’s vocational education and training (VET) system so that it better responds to genuine, emerging skill shortages (e.g., through shorter more targeted training courses).
To date, it appears the Government has been constrained through a lack of suitable and timely information on skill shortages. The recent Queensland Education and Training Department discussion paper Skills for Jobs and Growth notes (p. 28):
Numerical measures of hard to fill vacancies do not exist at present despite a strong and consistent demand for such information by a range of VET stakeholders. Where policy makers continue to maintain responsibility for identifying and addressing skill shortages then there would appear to be a strong justification for establishing an ongoing hard to fill vacancies database for Queensland.
This is a good idea, and it’s surprising we don’t already have one set up. Let’s hope the Skills Commission will be able to garner some more resources for research into Queensland’s VET system and labour market.