The latest quarterly Labour Market Update released by Jobs and Skills Australia reveals skills shortages are particularly persistent in regional areas, with engineering and medical fields under particular pressure.
Regional areas are facing skills shortages in a number of occupations including: General Practitioners and Resident Medical Officers, Registered Nurses, Medical Imaging Professionals, Early Childhood (Pre-primary School) Teachers, Cooks, Chefs, Motor Mechanics, Automotive Electricians, and Mining Engineers.
Shortages of doctors, nurses, medical staff and other essential services workers in regional and rural areas are a particular concern and it is imperative that we work together with jurisdictions, industry, the VET sector and universities to educate and train more Australians and improve access to relevant courses and degrees across the nation.
Strong and accessible higher education and vocational education and training sectors are crucial to tackling this skills shortage.
That is why the Albanese Government took immediate action to implement a 12 month Skills Agreement for 180,000 Fee-Free TAFE and VET places. We have seen strong enrolments from regional and rural areas with around 48,000 enrolments since January 2023 – approximately 33 per cent of the total Fee-Free TAFE enrolments across the nation.
Over the past year, around 92 per cent of total employment growth has been in occupations where some level of post-secondary school qualification is usually required, while around two-thirds of total employment has been in occupations where VET qualifications are the primary pathway.
While skills shortages continue to remain, the report also showed that there was a strong increase in full-time employment and improvements for the long-term unemployed.
The quarter showed positive signs for those who have been out of the workforce for a year or more with the number long-term unemployed people falling by more than 11,000, hitting their lowest level since 2009.
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor
“The skills shortage crisis we inherited persists and the Australian Government is committed to addressing this - our reform policies are more crucial than ever.
“Doctors and nurses in regional and rural areas are crucial to healthy and happy communities, so it is vital we continue to build on our reforms in higher education, and vocational education and training to increase the accessibility of training and encourage more Australians to skill in areas of demand.
“Fee-Free TAFE and VET across the country has seen a strong take up in regional areas, which will help develop the pipeline of workers needed.
“Other reforms including the expanded Australian Apprenticeships Priority List, and strengthened financial and non-financial supports will help with cost of living pressures and develop skills in critical areas of shortage.
“To provide greater opportunity in Australia for secure and rewarding employment we must continue to skill and reskill our workforce.”