Skills shortages are continuing to have a significant impact on business performance in New South Wales, according to the recently released NSW Business Chamber - Commonwealth Bank Business Conditions Survey for the March 2011 quarter.


The survey found that as employment in NSW rises to a record level and with unemployment falling, 46.8% of businesses indicate they have a skills shortage. This represents a significant increase from November 2010, when 39% of businesses reported skills shortages.


Skills shortages have been reported across major industry sectors, with particular demand in occupations Including construction trades, technicians (e.g. refrigeration and air conditioning), metal trades, engineers, accountants, ICT professionals, health and community support services, sales and marketing, professional, scientific and technical services.


The report noted that the NSW Business Chamber continues to receive anecdotal reports of skilled trades people moving to highly paid mining jobs in Western Australia and Queensland.


“These pressures are expected to continue with The National Resources Sector Employment Taskforce reporting that the mining industry faces a skills shortage of 36,000 workers by 2015. It is also anticipated that NSW businesses will face additional skill shortage pressures in response to demand for skilled labour to assist with the reconstruction effort in Queensland, as a result the January floods and cyclone Yasi.”


Overall, the study concluded that recovery from the Global Financial Crisis has stalled in NSW.


Stephen Cartwright, CEO of NSW Business Chamber, said that sales are flat-lining, profits are falling, and exports are languishing with business conditions deteriorating over the past year.


“The high price of the Australian Dollar, driven by the resources boom, is having a dramatic impact on our manufacturing and services sectors.”


However, he said there was some optimism detectable, which he considere might be a reflection of the change of government in NSW.


“In spite of a flat lining recovery, we are seeing positive decisions by business to invest in buildings, technology, plant and equipment as well as an expectation of future employment growth.


“We are also seeing positive trends in terms of hours worked by employees and the number of persons employed. However, this is some cause for concern in businesses already reporting skill shortages and the survey indicating high expectations of continued growth in wages. It’s tough but we are optimistic – appears to be what businesses throughout NSW are saying," Mr Cartwright said.