Health professionals and teachers are two occupations that have felt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In a report released by the National Skills Commission, it cites burnout and working unpaid hours as some of the effects that health professionals experienced during the pandemic.
At the same time, some things remain unchanging. For example, shortages of technicians and trades workers still remained persistent in 2022.
Some things have changed, some things have stayed the same.
While we know skill shortages are always present, what skills were in demand in Australia in 2022 and in years to come?
The answer lies in the Commission’s report, the 2022 Skills Priority List.
Most in demand jobs in Australia 2022
The Skills Priority List outlines occupations in shortage nationally and by state and territory, as well as their future demand. It features:
- tour guide
- aircraft maintenance engineer.
But which occupations were most in-demand this year?
Technicians and trades workers
If there were any ongoing issues in the labour market, it would be the persistent shortages of technicians and trade workers.
The largest employing occupations in this group in 2022 were:
- electrician (‘strong’ shortage and ‘strong’ future demand)
- chef (‘strong’ shortage with ‘moderate’ future demand)
- motor mechanic (as above).
The report states that employers of this group typically received small pools of applicants, with only around a third being suitably qualified.
‘Most employers required applicants to hold a formal qualification, most commonly a certificate III or IV, or an equivalent trade qualification,” the report explains.
‘Despite this, employers still mostly struggled to find applicants who satisfied their experience requirements, with the majority of applicants (65 per cent) in this major group being found unsuitable due to a lack of experience in this occupation.’
Other trades that showed a particularly low fill rate in 2022 were:
- automotive and engineering
With most workers for these trade groups often finding employment through apprenticeship training, the tradie shortage indicates the difficulty in filling vacancies for positions requiring an apprenticeship training, according to the Skills Priority List.
Employers have found the same problem among professionals, who made up a 20 per cent increase in skill shortages this year compared with 2021.
‘Most employers recruiting for professionals required applicants to hold qualifications, most often a bachelor’s degree. … (But) a lack of experience was the most cited reason for finding applicants unsuitable,’ the Skills Priority List report explains.
Professional careers in demand in 2022 included:
- primary school teacher (‘strong’ shortage with ‘moderate’ future demand)
- secondary school teacher (as above)
- general practitioner (as above)
- registered nurses (‘strong’ shortage and ‘strong’ future demand).
Adding to the complexity was the supply of trained professionals who might not necessarily translate to an adequate supply to meet labour market needs.
The ‘true’ supply of workers for teaching occupations, for example, might be influenced by other factors such as:
- workplace conditions
- impacts on wellbeing and mental health.
Although the shortage of teachers in Australia reflects a tightening labour market, knowledge-intensive services such as education and healthcare are also among the fastest growing industries nationally across both employment and output.
The healthcare industry had, and still has, to also endure further impacts of the pandemic, with the report citing the pandemic as a bigger barrier to job entry than employers’ requirements of qualification and experience.
What other skills were in demand?
There were high-demand jobs in Australia that were in shortage in 2022 but not in 2021. They included:
- surgeon (neuro, paediatric and plastic surgeons)
- food technologist
- veterinary nurse
- chemical engineer
- web developer
- building inspector
- youth worker.
‘Findings from the 2022 list show that 31 per cent of occupations assessed are in shortage (286 out of 914),’ the National Skills Commission states.
‘The remaining 628 occupations are rated as “NS” (no shortage) at a national level, although some of these occupations are in shortage in some states and territories.”
According to Australia's Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O'Connor, learning new skills, acquiring knowledge and cultivating innovation is key to boosting incomes and living standards and creating more ooportunities for more Australians to get ahead and realise their aspirations.
'We need to support people to do what they are good at and what they enjoy no matter what the pathway – whether it is VET or university,' he says on The Courier Mail.