Skills shortages worsenas Australia’s working age population shrinks
Updated ABS data shows the estimated resident population in all states and territories remains a concern for the building industries peak body the HIA.
This data is the compilation of the natural rate of population growth, overseas migration and interstate migration which all indicate the population is shrinking, along with the skilled work force.
HIA’s senior economist Nick Ward said the data reveals that the population of Australians aged between 15 and 64 has fallen since COVID.
“Migrants to Australia are typically younger than existing residents, with the restriction on new arrivals, the number of working age Australians has fallen by around 83,500 people in 2020/21 financial year,” Mr Ward said.
“This is continuing to make it increasingly difficult for businesses to find skilled workers.”
Mr Ward said that a return to stable and reliable skilled migration pathways is central to a return to stable economic growth.
The loss of young migrants also accelerates population aging, adding pressure to government budgets over the long term.
Australia’s population growth remains at the lowest it has been in over 100 years, with growth of just 0.18 per cent over the past year.
In 2018/19, Australia’s net migration was around 241,300 people, in 2020/21, Australia lost around 88,800 migrants in net terms.
A recent ABS survey showed more than a quarter (27 per cent) of Australian businesses were having difficulty finding qualified staff.
Among the skilled trades, these were mainly in hospitality, sales, transportation, construction and mining.
Infrastructure Australia has indicted that skilled job shortages could rise to over 100,000 by 2023, and also concur with the HIA that Australia needed an urgent skilled migration program.