Technical and trade skills in high demand and hard to find in 2024

Ai Group’s Centre for Education and Training (CET) today released survey data showing Technicians and Trades workers are in high demand, and increasingly hard to find. 77% of businesses surveyed reported an increased need for these skills, and 79% said they were having difficulty finding or training staff to meet this need.

Businesses also reported an increased demand for Managers and Professionals but are finding them slightly easier to source. 69% of the businesses surveyed reported an increased need for Managers, with 58% having difficulty finding or training staff to meet this need. 66% reported an increased skill need in relation to Professionals, with 61% having difficulty finding or training to meet this need.

The data also shows that demand for Technicians and Trades workers is rising over time. When we surveyed businesses in 2020, 49% reported an increased need for Technicians and Trades skills. This rose to 69% in 2022 and then to 77% this year. The proportion of businesses having difficulty finding or training Technicians and Trades workers has increased from 39% of those surveyed in 2020 to 79% in 2024.

Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said: “Australian businesses are telling us they are struggling to find the technical and trades skills they need, and over recent years it has become a problem for more and more companies.

“Not being able to find the right people at the right time limits the ability of businesses to meet demand, grow and innovate and this has negative consequences for our economy,” Mr Willox said.

When Ai Group asked businesses what actions they planned to take to meet their skill needs over the next 12 months, 77% said they would be re-skilling existing staff on the job, 63% said they would employ experienced people.

They also plan to invest in learning and development. 91% of the businesses we surveyed said they planned to maintain or increase their expenditure on training and development in the next 12 months. 44% said they planned to increase their expenditure this year.

There is a strong desire to take on entry level workers, with 37% planning to increase the number of apprentices/trainees they employ in the coming year.

Businesses also told us that a positive attitude and/or generic capabilities are key considerations when it comes to hiring graduates or school leavers. 61% of the businesses ranked this at the top of the list of factors they consider when recruiting young people. It was in the top three factors for 83% of businesses. Among those not looking to hire new entrants the biggest reported barrier was ‘lack of work preparedness’.

These findings are from Ai Group’s CET survey, Listening to Australian businesses on workforce and skills 2024. The survey is run every two years.

This year the survey had responses from 251 individual businesses, collectively employing a total of 291,232 FTE employees.

For the full Research Insight see: Skills in demand in 2024

/Public Release. View in full here.