Canberra, Oct 4 (IANS): Australia is facing its most significant skills shortage in 60 years, the head of the government's skills agency warned on Wednesday.
In an address to the National Press Club (NPC) in Canberra, Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) Acting Commissioner Peter Dawkins said urgent action is needed to train specialist workers for the country's clean energy transition, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to JSA data, 36 per cent of occupations are dealing with a skills shortage in Australia in 2023, up from 31 per cent in 2022, with technicians and trade workers and professional occupations such as health, engineering and science roles most affected.
"Australia is experiencing widespread skill shortages, the likes of which we have not seen since the 1960s," Dawkins said.
His NPC appearance coincided with the release of JSA's 2023 Jobs and Skills Report, which sets out a roadmap to ensure Australia's labor needs are met over the next three decades as the country pursues a net zero emissions target.
"Reaching net zero by 2050 will require a workforce transformation in Australia that is substantial but not unprecedented," Dawkins said.
The report found that the clean energy supply workforce, comprising 38 occupations, will need to grow by 60 per cent by 2050.
It recommended that the government adopt broad strategies across higher education, vocational training and migration to ensure that workers have the skills employers need and said it was critical to improve the gender balance in professions with the most severe worker shortages.
"Australians will need to acquire and continually develop the necessary skills, which will increasingly be high-level skills if we are to achieve the economic and social aspirations of a prosperous and equitable nation," Dawkins told the NPC.
"Increasing equity can be achieved by enhancing the ability of disadvantaged groups to obtain the skills and opportunities they need to be successful in securing and retaining good jobs."