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If you want a change of job, now would be a good time to go for it.

Manpower's Annual Talent Shortage Survey exposes the extent to which Australia's finance firms are crying out for staff. It says 61% of Australian employers cannot find qualified staff to fill vacancies. And of the 10 most critical sectors, finance (at number 4) and engineering (at number 2) were the only professional sectors experiencing trouble: all the rest were trades jobs.

The shortage of finance employees isn't wildly surprising given that

a) plenty of Australian bankers have sought pastures greener overseas, and b) the unemployment rate for the Australian finance sector, at 1.8%, is way below the national average of 4.5%.

Moreover, things seem to be getting worse rather than better. The survey also found that, out of the 27 countries examined, Australia and New Zealand had the most dramatic increases in skills shortages over the preceding 12 months with a 29% increase in difficulty filling positions compared with 2006. Manpower interviewed 2,846 Australian employers for the survey.

Stephen Hinch, Manpower chief marketing officer, says companies haven't caught on yet that workers now have the whip hand. "Baby boomers are retiring, the workforce is shrinking, which means employers will have more trouble filling positions. It will be an employees' market and they will be able to pick and choose who they work for. The old anxieties around job security are vanishing, especially for Gen X-ers who are restless and ready for change."

Not that employers are reining in their aspirations. Manpower's Employment Outlook Survey (March 2007) found that companies expected to lift employment by 31% this April-June quarter.

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