MELBOURNE—As is the case in the United States, Australian manufacturers are having trouble finding skilled workers to fill vacancies. According to theManufacturing and Allied Services Indexpublished by Sensis, a division of Telstra Corp., and Australian Business Ltd., 21 percent of Australian companies in the manufacturing sector expressed "finding quality staff" as the primary business concern of their organization

"What these firms are telling us is that the main issue is a shortage of appropriately skilled staff, followed by a lack of tradespeople in their local areas," says Australian Business Ltd. chief executive Mark Bethwaite. "We need a community realignment in the perceived value and worth of trades as a profession."

According to Bethwaite, the current problem is in part the result of a government policy in the 1990s stating that every young Australian needed a university degree.

"Implicit in this was the thought that somehow a trade was a second rate qualification or career," he says. "Our economy could pay a heavy price for that misguided thinking in the years ahead. This attitude has discouraged young people with the aptitude for trades from taking them on."

For more information on the labor situation Down Under visit www.australianbusiness.com.au/media.