The top 20 hardest-to-fill roles in Australia | 2019
SEEK data reveals two industries dominate the list of hard-to-fill roles in Australia. Where is the challenge coming from and what can companies do to address it?

Attracting the best talent requires a well-oiled recruitment strategy, but despite best efforts, some roles are simply hard to fill. To identify the roles most challenging for hiring managers and recruiters, SEEK has released new data into the jobs that receive the least number of applications.

Australia’s hardest-to-fill roles

The latest data reveals that two industries dominate the list of hard-to-fill roles – Healthcare & Medical and Legal. What’s happening within these industries and which roles are proving the most challenging?

The chart below details the roles that were hardest to fill in 2018, based on candidate application numbers, compared to the same time the previous year. An easing trend indicates a market with more candidates, while a tightening trend indicates a market with fewer candidates. A stable trend indicates a market with no change in the volume of candidates available.

Source: SEEK Employment Report 2018 vs 2017

Supply versus demand

Hard-to-fill roles are usually the result of demand outstripping supply. The Healthcare & Medical industry, for example, is Australia’s largest employer and demand for talent looks set to grow. Figures from the Federal Government’s Intergenerational Report shows that health expenditure per person is projected to more than double over the next 40 years. The number of Australians aged 65 and over is also predicted to more than double in this time.

Christine Spears, Talent Acquisition Manager at BaptistCare, which provides aged care services such as in-home care and aged care centres across NSW and ACT, says there is a skills shortage across the industry.

“The average age of our care workers is 51,” says Spears. “A Certificate III Individual Support qualification is required for some roles. However, transferable skills, the right attitude and alignment with the organisations purpose and values are important attributes for all roles within the organisation.  It’s all about giving back to the community with interesting and challenging work, but there’s a skills shortage”.  

Meanwhile, the Legal industry is also experiencing a surge in demand. The 2018 Hays Job Report notes that inhouse legal activity is growing steadily across Australia as companies cut down on outsourcing their legal function to private practice.

Emily McCarthy, Principal and Head of Secondments at Lexvoco, which provides lawyers on contract and secondment to leading organisations in Australia and New Zealand, expects this trend to continue throughout 2019.

“There are other reasons why legal roles can be hard to fill,” she says. “The legal industry has a reputation for being inflexible and in a time where people are looking for flexibility in their careers, any lack of flexibility is a real deterrent to making a change.”

Hard-to-fill roles in healthcare

Nursing - Midwifery, Neo-Natal, SCN & NICU tops of the list of hard-to-fill roles, however the good news is that the trend is easing with a 53.2% increase in applications per advertised role.

Dan Hobson, Director Hobson Health Recruitment, says candidates for these roles are “always in demand”. “The ratio of qualified midwives to registered nurses is low,” he says. “It’s a very specialised area of nursing.”

Other hard-to-fill healthcare roles include Speech Therapy, Nursing – Management and General Practitioners. Applications for Physiotherapy, OT & Rehabilitation have also been tightening in trend terms with a 17% decrease in applications per advertised role.

“I think it’s a case of universities not creating enough places in physiotherapy [courses],” says Hobson. “There’s a shortage in the market and when I have a physio on my books they get snapped up very quickly.”

Trends in the legal industry

Roles in Construction Law are proving difficult to fill. Supply versus demand has been tightening with a decline in applications of 9.2% per advertised role.

McCarthy credits the infrastructure boom for the growth in demand. “We are seeing an increased need for property lawyers which is also quite challenging to fill due to the decline in the commercial property market.”

Roles in Corporate and Commercial Law also make the list. McCarthy says this may be due to the recent Royal Commission into misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services industry. “It has certainly placed pressure on the legal teams in many financial services and banking institutions,” she says. “A lot of these people are corporate and commercial lawyers, and the increased demand for more and more lawyers with these skillsets is difficult to keep up with.”

There has also been a tightening of applications in Insurance & Superannuation Law. McCarthy says this may also be a result of the Royal Commission’s focus on financial services and a lack of incentive to move on from current positions.

Overcoming the challenge

Organisations such as Lexvoco and BaptistCare are addressing the recruitment challenges within their respective sectors with strategies to target the motivations of potential candidates.

In the Legal industry, McCarthy says this includes providing flexible working arrangements. “There has not been a lot of flexibility in traditional law firms, but we know that this is something that more lawyers want. By utilising the gig economy, we can offer lawyers the type of work they want, when they want it.”

Find out more about what Australian candidates want. Visit SEEK Laws of Attraction.

McCarthy adds that career development is also highly valued. Lexvoco, which employs more than 100 people, provides access to educational webinars, industry meet ups and networking events. “Lawyers also want career progression and we offer them an opportunity to diversify their in-house experience and develop new skills. We’re also a leader in legal technology, so we ensure candidates know that they will have the opportunity to expand their skillset.”

At BaptistCare, which employs just under 4,000 people, recruitment strategies also include an emphasis on career development. “BaptistCare offers its employees high quality education, training resources and development opportunities, along with other benefits of working in the not-for-profit sector such as salary packaging” says Spears. “As we’re a large organisation, there are many different areas for people to move into and this is attractive to applicants.”

Spears adds that candidates are generally looking for a sense of meaning in their work. “We emphasise our values at every opportunity so current and potential workers know what motivates us as an organisation.”