What are Scarce Skills?
The Framework for Identifying and Monitoring Scarce and Critical Skills (2005, p. 6) describes scarce skills as “those occupations in which there is a scarcity of qualified and experienced people, currently or anticipated in the future, either (a) because such skilled people are not available or (b) they are available but do not meet employment criteria”. The framework further provides a distinction between absolute and relative scarcity.
Absolute scarcity refers to suitably skilled people who are not available in the labour market to meet a skills shortage and may be due to any new or emerging occupation, lack of suitably qualified people or insufficient numbers of people enrolled in programmes to meet the new demands. Relative scarcity refers to suitably skilled people available in the labour market but who may not necessarily have a high level of work experience, may not be located within a specific geographical location and equity considerations. Scarcity often manifests itself in an inability to fill positions over prolonged periods of time, above average growth in remuneration and the inability of small organisations and rural areas to attract skilled people.