Regional businesses remain confident despite skill, labour shortages

Confidence among WA’s regional businesses remains high, but skill and labour shortages continue to be a barrier to growth, CCIWA’s latest Regional Pulse survey shows.

The June 2021 survey found regional businesses expect strong conditions for the next three to 12 months, with 61 per cent – on par with results in Perth and Peel – anticipating an improving economy in the short term. In the longer term, around half (52 per cent) believe the economy will continue to strengthen into 2022. 

However, in a sign the regional workforce is not keeping pace with the demands of a recovering economy, four in five regional businesses said they were struggling to fill a skilled occupation – a 19 point surge since last quarter.

Businesses in the Pilbara (97 per cent), Mid-West/Gascoyne (92 per cent) and Kimberley (83 per cent) were the most heavily impacted. By region, the most in-demand occupations were mechanics (Mid-West, Gascoyne and Kimberley), drill and blast engineers (Goldfields-Esperance), boilermakers (Wheatbelt), and fitters (Pilbara).

Mechanics are among the most in-demand professions in WA's regions amid Statewide skill shortages.

There is also strong demand for farm workers, hospitality workers and truck drivers, the survey found.

Experienced workers needed

On average, regional businesses reported needing workers with at least 2.8 years’ training or experience, with more experience required in resources, construction, and manufacturing roles.  

While regional businesses are ramping up their effort to train new workers, only 30 per cent expect to be able to fill their vacant roles locally,” CCIWA Chief Economist Aaron Morey said.

As many as one in four jobs in the regions (18%) will need to be filled via overseas migration — greater than the proportion in Perth and Peel. 

Morey said the results confirmed that regional and metro businesses faced the same skills and labour pressures, with a need for more space in the quarantine system and a clear process to enable critical workforce gaps to be filled via migration.

“In CCIWA’s recent national survey, such measures had 2-1 support from Australians in every State and every walk of life,” he said.

“A consistent message from business and households is that Australians – with confidence supported by global and national progress on vaccines – are ready to move beyond the lockdowns, closed borders and restraints they have been living with.”

For more insight see CCIWA’s latest economic reports.

CCIWA’s COVID-19 page contains up-to-date information for businesses.

For help and guidance on navigating COVID-19 restrictions, contact CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or [email protected].

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