The “Ready, Set, Upskill – Fast track growth with digital skills” report produced by RMIT Online and Deloitte Access Economics interviewed 413 business leaders and 1,040 employees from mid-size and big companies across several Australian industries.
Helen Souness, the Chief Executive Officer at RMIT Online offered insights, “It’s no secret that employers across Australia are struggling to find great people with the right skills.”
“In some industries, such as Technology, big companies are raising salaries to attract talent and making it even harder for smaller businesses and startups to indulge in hiring.”
“We need to increase upskilling and open the borders to change this situation.”
Employers struggle to attract new staff
Despite the interest of employees in moving on, employers do not expect half of their workforce will resign in 2022. One-third of companies surveyed anticipate that 6-10% of their staff will leave, and a further 24% of businesses expect 11-20% to quit.
Over half of employers that participated in the survey (58%) found the situation challenging to attract new staff, identifying border closures as the most common barrier (27%).
In addition, employees looking for their dream careers (26%) and having extremely high work-life balance standards (24%) created significant hurdles attracting new workers.
Businesses are betting on flexibility and training to attract candidates and retain staff.
The majority (72%) now offer flexible work arrangements and on-the-job formal training initiatives (65%), with coaching (48%) and paid leave (41%) also popular perks.
Workers value investment in training as 77% said that it demonstrates employer interest in their career development. 82% believe upskilling staff is critical for business performance.
77% of managers say their organisations could do more to upskill staff, and 61% think they would be willing to increase investment if they expected fewer people to resign.
Big gap and wage premiums
The fall in skilled immigration since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020 saw 380,000 fewer people enter the workforce, directly costing the Australian economy $32bn.
The study calculates that Australia’s Gross Domestic Product could have grown by an additional $148 billion during this period without the global COVID-19 pandemic impacts.
The research shows digital skills are becoming essential across all work areas.
Job ads in 2021 show these skills were the 3rd most requested, behind customer service and project management and ahead of sales, budget management and business processes.
38% of companies surveyed also said they lacked artificial intelligence and machine learning skills. 1 in 5 companies (21%) revealed their employees’ digital skills are out of date.
The demand for digital skills has created a digital wage premium.
The research compared the advertised salaries in jobs where they had requested digital skills to the average advertised salary more broadly to determine the digital skills premium.
Averagely, the premium was 9% or equal to an additional $7,700 per worker every year.
“Employers anticipate that they will spend more on upskilling their workers over the next year and employees have attached value to this investment, with many noting that it is a sign their employers want to invest in them, and they care about their development.”