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Manufacturing Labour Shortages: Which Locations Are Struggling To Hire The Most?

Attracting a quality workforce is one of the most difficult challenges among manufacturers right now, and businesses in Australia and New Zealand are facing the brunt of the skills gap, new data shows.

As manufacturing software becomes more sophisticated, production is restored to its pre-pandemic state and advancements in Industry 4.0 make the sector more innovative, businesses are feeling the strain in attracting a quality, high-skilled workforce.

Whether in food and drink, electronics or automotive, organisations are struggling to hire the right people in production management, quality control and product design roles.

As a result, new data from ECI Software Solutions has revealed the stark numbers of the places in Australia and New Zealand that are suffering from the biggest labour shortages.

ECI has looked at the manufacturing roles currently available in cities across both countries, before comparing it with the number of people currently searching for these jobs in every location.

The manufacturing skills index - where is struggling the most to attract the new workforce?

Australia: The locations with the biggest shortage of manufacturing workers

Rank

City

Number of job roles

Number of people searching for jobs

% of vacancies left unfilled

1

Canberra

313

150

52.08%

2

Sydney

4359

2150

50.68%

3

Rockingham

52

30

42.31%

4

Melbourne

2519

1880

25.37%

5

Brisbane

1082

990

8.5%

The capital of Australia is struggling the most to find people to hire, with more than two vacancies for every person searching for work in Canberra. This suggests that half of companies in the city could find it very difficult to recruit and remain understaffed, unless they’re able to offer remote work.

Employers in Sydney are also likely to find increased difficulties in hiring suitable candidates, with over 2,000 extra jobs in manufacturing compared to the number of people looking for work.

Businesses in Rockingham, Melbourne and Brisbane are also facing issues hiring talent, with the cities rounding out the top five.

Overall in Australia, 32.09% of vacancies are left unfilled compared to the demand for them.

With delivery times and the supply chain already impeded by global shipping delays, Australia’s manufacturing sector needs the labour and skills to be able to manage and process orders with efficiency.

The ranking of some of the most populous cities comes as the government plans to “remove red tape” and “help businesses attract the best and the brightest” by introducing a new global talent visa to encourage skilled workers from overseas.

Australia: The locations most oversubscribed for manufacturing jobs

Rank

City

Number of job roles

Number of people searching for jobs

% of demand compared to jobs available

1

Cairns

17

90

529.41%

2

Ballarat

16

70

427.5%

3

Wollongong

27

110

407.41%

4

Townsville

29

110

379.31%

5

Toowoomba

20

70

350%

While many of the most populous cities are struggling to find people to fill vacancies, other locations are overflowing with people searching for jobs, the research suggests. One reason could be down to the migration out of urban areas, with the pandemic luring some Australians into regional cities due to a more affordable cost of living.

In particular, Queensland residents are struggling to find enough jobs to meet demand. Cairns and Townsville, two cities in the region, have up to five times as many people searching for vacancies than there are jobs available.

There’s a similar story in other cities such as Ballarat, Wollongong and Toowoomba, suggesting that there might be a golden opportunity for businesses to expand out of major business hubs.

The physical nature, and preconception of manufacturing makes the move to remote work look daunting, but given the new manufacturing software available in the industry, it’s now much more viable for people to conduct some of their responsibilities at home. Companies able to offer remote work should make sure that their job vacancies are clearly labeled as so.

New Zealand: The locations with the biggest shortage of manufacturing workers

Rank

City

Number of job roles

Number of people searching for jobs

% of vacancies left unfilled

1

Porirua

222

50

77.48%

2

Hamilton

73

20

72.6%

3

Lower Hutt

222

80

63.96%

4

Auckland

1,082

1,000

7.58%

5

Wellington

236

220

6.78%

In New Zealand, Porirua, which resides in the Wellington region, is struggling the most to find people to fill its manufacturing jobs. In the city, over three quarters of jobs advertised don’t have enough demand for them.

Hamilton and Lower Hutt didn’t fare much better, with over two jobs advertised for every one person searching for a vacancy.

In New Zealand, an ageing workforce could be one of the reasons for the skills shortage, with employees in the country encouraged to retrain and upskill their older employees. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of 65+ year olds still working at 24%, with a third of its workforce aged over 55. In one study, only 17% of employers said they have adequate training opportunities for those over the age of 50.

Recently, Amazon Web Services also revealed that more than one million New Zealand workers will need digital skills training in the next year, which includes those who will need to retrain.

New Zealand: The locations most oversubscribed for manufacturing jobs

Rank

City

Number of job roles

Number of people searching for jobs

% of demand compared to jobs available

1

Whangarei

9

60

666.7%

2

Rotorua

9

60

666.7%

3

Nelson

8

50

625%

4

New Plymouth

16

60

375%

5

Palmerston North

24

80

333.33%

Despite a record number of jobs on offer in New Zealand, some residents were struggling to find enough vacancies in their home city, the research found.

In a similar picture to Australia, smaller populated areas in New Zealand were oversubscribed for jobs in manufacturing. In Whangarei and Rotorua especially, there were more than six people competing for every job available, despite the overall skill shortages consuming the rest of the country.

In Christchurch, one of the more populated cities in New Zealand, there are almost two people searching for every job available. This could be a sign of the times, as research from Christchurch NZ found that one in five New Zealanders are open to a move to the city.

One reason for the employment challenges in more rural areas could be due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50,000 New Zealanders moved back to the country during the pandemic. Businesses struggling to hire have a golden chance to gain home-grown talent. But with residents moving out of business hubs, employers need to ensure that they’re showing that they’re able to offer manufacturing jobs remotely.

Businesses in Australia and New Zealand should also look to apprenticeships and training programmes to facilitate their home-grown talent. And as your business grows and you scale-up, you should consider a manufacturing ERP system which can help you to save time on manual processes by providing real-time insights into capacity, quality product data and inventory management.


Methodology

ECI used data from Indeed Australia and Indeed New Zealand to discover the number of vacancies for manufacturing-related roles within 25 kilometres of each major city.

ECI then compared this with data from Google Keyword Planner to discover how many people in each city were searching for the manufacturing-related jobs.

Data is correct as of Thursday 24 March 2022.

About the Author

ECI Staff Contributors love to share their insights and expertise on a variety of topics including sales, marketing, cloud, ERP, and SMB development as well as on product specific education. With offices throughout the United States, Mexico, England, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, more than 40 employees contribute to blog on a regular basis.