Industry groups might regularly complain about a skills shortage, but new data shows there is actually a current oversupply of skilled labour.
Employment services firm Clarius Group's Skills Index for the September quarter showed there was a skilled labour surplus of 19,500 across the 20 occupation categories examined, compared to a shortage of 2300 in the June quarter for 2012.
Employees representing Generation Y are appreciating their jobs more too, now they are seeing colleagues made redundant and employers can afford to be more choosy, according to the Clarius report.
The turnaround was driven by an increase in unemployment in the three months to September 30 (5.2 to 5.4 per cent) and decrease in employment opportunities in what was a volatile economy, the study found.
However, Clarius chief executive Kym Quick warns large skills shortages still exist in the sectors expected to drive economic growth in the next 12 months.
Seven of the 20 occupations representing 2.6 million workers analysed in the report were in shortage.
The index weakened from 100.1 "balanced" in the June quarter to 99.2 "moderate" in this quarter, with a score under 100 meaning the skilled labour market has moved from a shortage to an oversupply.
The effect of that was a fundamental shift in employer and employee behaviour, especially among Generation Y (roughly aged 32 and under).
"Expectations are now more realistic and they appreciate the fact they've actually got a job, having seen many of their colleagues face a very different scenario," Ms Quick said.
In many cases the probation period for a new employee has doubled from three months to six months.
Employees were also being asked to do more work to cover redundant positions because, while the people may not be there anymore, the task still is.
The index found there was a shortage of 6,900 engineers, 5,900 information and communications technology professionals, 2,700 accountants, company secretaries and auditors, 3,200 sales and marketing professionals and 700 legal professionals.
The most "in demand" occupation was corporate service managers, with a 4.9 per cent increase in the shortfall.
That role had become increasingly important given post-global financial crisis compliance and stakeholder scrutiny, Ms Quick said.
There were surpluses in various industries, among them were finance jobs and skilled technician, clerical and administrative roles.
With signs of the Chinese economy picking up, the shortages in some professions could adversely impact Australia's ability to take full advantage of upturns in Asian economies in the short to medium term, she said.
The index reported growth in labour demand in the Australian economy was primarily occurring in higher-skilled occupations and professionals representing a significant proportion of employment in growth industries.
The unemployment rate among Australian professionals is just 1.8 per cent, compared with the national rate of 5.4 per cent, with a shortage of 15,300 professionals.The data used for the index is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
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