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Monday, 19 July 2021 12:25

Lack of skilled candidates a major staffing concern for employers: study Featured

By Staff Writer

As digital transformation reshapes the labour market and Australian businesses face a deepening skills shortage, new research reveals the impact demand for digital skills is having on job prospects and earning potential for employees across finance and accounting, technology, business support and marketing.

The research commissioned by talent solutions provider Robert Half and job market analytics company Burning Glass Technologies coincides with the launch of Robert Half’s Demand for Skilled Talent report, to provide an in-depth analysis of current employment market trends, in-demand roles and the rise of the ‘Anywhere Workforce’.

The biggest staffing concern facing employers is having a lack of skilled candidates available for open roles, and the Robert Half research found that more than eight in 10 (82%) employers believe it will be more challenging to find qualified employees compared to pre-pandemic conditions.

Robert Half says the quickening rate of digital transformation across many departments combined with the expansion of remote and hybrid work practices means that the development, use, and maintenance of hardware, software and cloud-based platforms (as examples) are increasingly no longer solely the preserve of dedicated IT departments.

And based on an analysis of all online job postings in Australia during the period of March 2020 – March 2021, compared to the same period five years ago, the digital skills with the greatest increase in demand are: DevOps (+344%), Atlassian JIRA (+101%), Software as a Service (+88%), Python (+61%) and Salesforce (+40%).

The demand for digital skill capabilities vary by sector and company, with employers increasingly requiring jobseekers to demonstrate expanded and more diverse skills from both traditionally ‘technical’ and ‘people-focused’ roles. Examples include:

  • For technology specialists: DevOps (+283%), Software as a Service (SaaS) skills (+96%) and JIRA (+74%) have seen a substantial uptick in demand.
  • For finance and accounting roles: Python (+33%) and Scrum (+3%) have had the biggest growth in demand.
  • For business support roles: Software as a Service skills (+45%) and Salesforce capabilities (+18%) have seen the greatest growth in demand amongst employers.
  • For marketing and communication roles: Email marketing (Mailchimp) (+148%), Software as a Service (SaaS) skills (+100%), and social media management (+27%) have experienced the most growth in demand in the past five years.

And complementing the demand for technical skills, Robert Half research reveals the most important aptitudes that employers are looking for in employees in 2021 are critical-thinking skills (29%), data skills (28%), adaptability (26%) and strategic thinking (26%).

The research also reveals that the shift in skills demand in response to the adoption of new technologies has outpaced the availability or development of these skills in the domestic talent pool - and this imbalance is evidenced in the remuneration attributed to job descriptions that include in-demand skills compared to those without.

Robert Half research breaks down the significant salary variances emerging in job postings over the past three years:

  • For technology specialists: Systems analysts with SAP skills are commanding up to 12% more in base salary than systems analysts without SAP skills; IT project managers with Scrum skills can command 13% more than those without.
     
  • For finance and accounting roles: Payroll specialists with SAP experience are commanding up to 4% more in base salary than payroll specialists without; finance managers with ERP knowledge can command 8% more than those without.
     
  • For business support roles: Project managers with Prince skills are commanding up to 29% more in base salary than project managers without; marketing specialists with SQL skills can command 19% more than those without.

David Jones, Senior Managing Director of Robert Half Asia Pacific, said: "As we move into what we hope will be the latter stage of the pandemic cycle, there is a return to a more confident and secure labour market for employees and employers alike. Businesses have been forced to expedite digitisation initiatives and have found a wealth of new growth opportunities through that evolution.

“The skills employers need are not only evolving rapidly but also directly translating into new-look job descriptions and evolving skillsets. Just a few years ago, marketing managers weren’t assessed on their ability to configure software, nor were software developers judged by their skills in building rapport with stakeholders.

“However, as the Demand for Skilled Talent report reveals, advancing technology is creating both new opportunities for workers and new challenges for employers trying to fill roles.

“As businesses continue towards recovery and growth without the flow of foreign talent to complement their domestic skilled workforce, there must be a renewed focus on reskilling and upskilling existing employees. As well as assessing technical skills, businesses should be seeking candidates who demonstrate a digital mindset and agile approach to learning as these characteristics will be essential to filling emerging skills gaps within a business."

“The pace of skill change globally continues to accelerate. Tech, digital and data handling skills continue to be in ever-increasing demand across all sectors,” said Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies.

“The development and use of hardware, software, e-commerce apps and cloud-based collaboration platforms, as examples, are no longer solely the preserve of dedicated IT departments as virtually all areas of business are becoming highly dependent on the use of technology in their day-to-day operations.

“From a business perspective, all managers need to foster a culture of constant learning for workers to remain agile, adaptable and sufficiently skilled in order to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation.”

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