THE NSW Business Chamber says its latest workforce skills survey has revealed a substantial increase in the number of jobs being left unfilled because of a lack of applicants skilled enough to undertake the work.
While the chamber says some measures have improved since the previous survey, the numbers of "skills shortage" vacancies have risen from 54,000 in 2017 to 82,000 this year, an increase of more than 50 per cent.
Statewide, more than 60 per cent of businesses had trouble recruiting suitably skilled staff, while one in five reported receiving no applications whatsoever for advertised jobs.
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Complaints about schools and universities turning out students who are not "job ready" has been a perennial complaint from employers.
Indeed, it is perhaps surprising that only 52 per cent of respondents "believe the education system is not providing young people with the skills, knowledge and capabilities they need for the workplace".
This is a result that implies that almost as many (48 per cent) believe the system is turning out skilled school leavers.
Remembering that the survey is looking at the market for vocational and skills-based jobs, many of the recommendations are for government assistance to help boost apprentice and trainee numbers.
Unfortunately, however, the numbers of almost all apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia, are in decline.
After decades of modest growth, the numbers of traineeships, especially, accelerated dramatically from the late 1990s.
But then traineeship numbers fell just as rapidly after peaking in 2013.
Most labour market experts would argue that the retreat is as much about the changing nature of work - and the controversies that followed the deregulation of vocational training - as it is about the school system.
Still, the survey comes at the right time, given Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement earlier this month of a new skills council to drive reform of vocational education.
That approach is based on a "vision" by the Council of Australian Governments to have TAFE on an equal footing with universities.