Skill shortages in regional New South Wales: Modelling the causes and effects using data from the Riverina

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Presenter:  Professor Kishor Sharma

Date: Jun 09, 2016

Time: 10:30am to 11:30am

Contact person:  Northern Institute
T: 08 8946 7468

Location:  Northern Institute, Yellow Building 1, Level 2, Room 48

Target audience:  Free - Open To The Public - All Welcome

Abstract: Skill shortages are seen as a major issue in the Australian labour market. Despite this, studies examining the causes and effects of such shortages, particularly in rural and regional Australia, are very limited. This is not surprising given that the investigation of such a complex issue requires a wide range of data and information, which is both time- and resource- intensive. The purpose of this study is to help fill this information gap by conducting a preliminary survey to investigate the causes and effects of skill shortages in rural and regional New South Wales (NSW), using the Riverina as a case study. The study also seeks to examine how companies address skill shortages in the short-run and what can be done to overcome this in the long-run.

Employing a survey of enterprises operating in the Riverina, we examine the causes and effects of skill shortages in the Riverina region in the state of New South Wales in Australia, which has experienced severe skill shortages in recent years. About 48% of businesses in the Riverina region have skill shortages and the most affected are small size firms. Empirical evidence suggests that skill shortages are positively related to firm size and negatively related to firm age. To address skill shortages large firms pursue a number of strategies including, international recruitment and just carry on looking for workers, while established firms (as measured by firm age) tend to increase reliance on automation. Hard-to-fill vacancies lead to lower productivity, loss of orders and higher running costs in the large firms as well as firms that focus regional market.

About Professor Kishor Sharma: Professor Kishor Sharma is a trade and development economist with over three decades of experience in the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to his current academic appointment in Australia (since July 1992), he was a Project Economist under the UNV program of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Western Samoa for four years, where he was involved in developing the 5th Development Plan of the Government of Western Samoa.  He has been a consultant to the UN agencies and the Asian Development Bank to assist governments in Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic and Nepal to develop trade and industrial policies, leading to significant policy reforms. (Read his full bio)

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