Market insights


Cessnock City Council did some important research to find out the top skills needs in the next 2 years according to Hunter region businesses.

Top 10 skill shortage occupations in the Cessnock & Hunter region requiring a Cert. 3 or lower


Chef ranked first on the list of current skills shortage occupations and also listed on the NSW Skills Shortage List maintained by The Department of Jobs and Small Business. Most Chefs in Australia complete an apprenticeship, including a minimum of Certificate III in Commercial Cookery (SIT30816). …read more 


There is no mandatory qualification to be a sales representative, 57% had no post-school qualification, 8% had another unstipulated qualification, 22% had a Certificate III or higher VET qualification while 13% had a bachelor’s degree or higher level of qualification nationally…read more


There is no mandatory qualification; of those employed in Retail, 54% had no post-school qualification, 6% had another unstipulated qualification, 24% had a Certificate III or higher VET qualification while 16% had a bachelor’s degree or higher level of qualification nationally…read more


You must have completed your Responsible Service of Alcohol Course if serving alcohol. Aside from that, of all workers in this industry, 55% had no post-school qualification, 6% had another unstipulated qualification, 25% had a Certificate III or higher…read more


Bar Attendant/Barista is ranked fifth in the Cessnock LGA and third of the top 5 occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services industry with just over 110,000 workers nationally…read more


Waiter is ranked the 6th most in demand job requiring qualifications below a Certificate 3 level and the first most in demand occupation in the Accommodation and Food Industry, nationally…read more


Can you make a coffee that will impress the most serious of connoisseurs?  Of all workers in this industry, 55% had no post-school qualification, 6% had another unstipulated qualification…read more


Do you have what it takes to be the face of a business and help it make its best first impression? There is no mandatory qualification to be a receptionist but you’re in much better stead if you can show a qualification…read more


If you’re bang on trend and have a sparkling personality, then hairdressing could be the job for you.…read more


Sales Workers employment is projected to grow across Australia and local businesses are predicting the same for the Hunter region. …read more



Cessnock City Council and Advance Cessnock City conducted a Skills Audit with all businesses in the Cessnock LGA between February and April 2018. A total of 1068 businesses throughout the Cessnock local government area (LGA) provided a response, 939 businesses completed the survey. This represented a 40.03% response rate.

Of all business that responded, 41.47% of businesses (367) said they were experiencing skills shortages. The skills audit revealed the largest volumes of businesses experiencing some kind of skills shortages were in Accommodation and Food Services, Retail Trade, Other Services, Manufacturing and Construction.



57.06% (408) said that they had difficulty attracting skilled workers, and 58.48% (362) said they had difficulty attracting any workers.

A significant proportion, 253 businesses (62.01%) experiencing difficulty attracting skilled workers, and 237 businesses (63.37%) experiencing difficulty retaining skilled workers were businesses in Accommodation and Food Services, Retail and Other Services.

For businesses, there is a higher risk of retaining skilled workers, 60.42% (374) of employers who responded said that they had difficulty retaining skilled staff.

A majority or 58.48% (362) of businesses declared they have a difficulty finding any workers, with 18.74% of respondents stating their difficulty finding any workers was high to very high.


While the upskilling of existing employees is considered an option for improving on the skills shortage, it is not the overall solution. A majority or 61.08% (510) of businesses perceived some benefit from up-skilling existing employees, with 12.03% of respondents it would be very beneficial to up-skill existing employees.

74.54% (644) of businesses stated they offered existing employees at least some type of training and development.

In relation to upskilling, 38.92% of employers (325 businesses) who responded said that upskilling would not be beneficial to improving skills shortages.


The following summarises overall skills in demand by the top 5 sectors by businesses currently having trouble recruiting skilled staff and businesses who expect demand in the next 2 years.

The data indicates a shift in local labour demand, with Accommodation and Food Services, along with Health Care and Social Assistance indicating strong demand when compared to the ANZSIC Divisions of employers who participated in the survey.


A significant proportion of recruiting occurs online, with online websites the largest category named by 314 businesses, and Facebook the equal fourth top position with 95 businesses. Gumtree and Instagram were also named as places businesses recruit.

Nearly half of respondents, 389 businesses (47.73%) cited difficulty in recruiting new staff. Over half or 52.47% (383 businesses) stated that they experienced difficulty recruiting due to no applicants or too few to choose from.

A large proportion 65.71% or 479 businesses stated that they experienced at least some difficulty recruiting due to applicants lacking required skill sets, and 66.48% (486) businesses stated that they difficulty recruiting due to applicants lacking relevant work experience.

62.36% or 454 businesses stated that they experienced difficulty recruiting due to applicants lacking appropriate qualifications.

Around half of respondents, or 49.44% (354 businesses) stated that they experienced difficulty recruiting due to applicants lacking cultural fit with the business.

60.83% or 441 businesses stated that they difficulty recruiting citing “Lack of local skilled workers”.

The biggest concerns of employers when recruiting is general issues with work ethic and attitude to work (21 businesses), applicants who break trust or become unreliable (10), and both technical and soft skills (9 each).


While there are correlations between NSW and regional skills shortage data and the results of the Cessnock City Council Skills Audit, it is apparent that employers are facing challenges recruiting suitable staff for various reasons.

Responses to some questions indicate that this is due to poor fit, failure to meet employer expectations, or mismatch in suitability for other reason relating to attitude, reliability, work ethic and competence, otherwise known as soft skills.

In relation to issues faced by employers when attempting to attract skilled staff, the top 10 responses are listed below.


A vast proportion of businesses (45.83%) perceived there to be very low expectations they would experience a skills shortage over the next 12-24 months.

There is a noticeable deficit in skilled workers locally, in Retail, Accommodation and Food Services, Manufacturing, Construction, Other services and Health Care and Social Assistance.

In terms of occupations, the prime vacancies which need to be filled by businesses are; Shop Assistant, Cellar Door Sales Representative, Waiter, Chef and Cellar Hand.

  • Pathways to meaningful careers

While entry level and VET roles are highly represented in shortage occupations, it is encouraging to see demand in higher skilled roles.

Further to this, there appear to be linkages across sectors within skills shortages, and aspirational pathways for meaningful career directions.

Many bachelor degree level occupational shortages were also identified, including sonographers, registered nurses, university trained childhood educators, accountants, aged care workers and community workers, Pharmacist and management.

There was also demand shown for trades and Certificate IV level and above including Bookkeepers, Chefs, Hairdressers, Beauty Therapists, Property Managers, machine operators and mechanics.

This could depict the need for strategies to be developed around encouraging school-leavers into these careers and on worker attraction and relocation into Cessnock City.


The Skills Audit survey identified 8,910 employees, across 872 businesses. The median number of staff was 4. The average number of staff per business was 10.22.

According to the survey, 92.33% of Cessnock City businesses are small or micro. Table 1 details the size classifications of surveyed businesses:

Table 1: Business Size classification and numbers of business

Category Classification Proportion of businesses surveyed
Micro business (5 or less employees) 66.13%
Small business (6 to 20 employees) 26.20%
Medium business (21 to 100 employees) 5.75%
Large business (greater than 100 employees) 1.92%
Total All businesses surveyed 100%

The jobs-enriched sectors are the sectors with the largest volumes of jobs. According to the Skills Audit, the largest number of employees exist in Retail Trades, Accommodation and Food Services, Health Care and Social Assistance, Other Services and Education and Training.

Other important sectors for Cessnock City based employment and jobs according to the study, are Manufacturing, Mining, Arts and Recreation and Construction.

On average there are higher numbers of jobs per business identified in Health Care and Social Assistance (26.84), Education and Training (21.28), and Arts and Recreation Services (17.22).

Businesses were asked about their proportions of Full Time, Part Time and Casual Employees:

  1. The largest numbers of Full Time Employees were found in Retail Trade with 748 representing 18.28% of all Full Time Employees. Accommodation and Food Services employed 572 Full Time Employees (13.98%), Mining Employed 568 (13.88%), and Other Services 446 (10.90%).
  2. The largest numbers of Part Time Employees were found in Health Care and Social Assistance with 512 representing 29.06% of all Part Time Employees. Retail Trades also employed a large proportion of Part Time employees with 428 (24.29%), Other Services employed 239 (13.56%).
  3. Unsurprisingly the largest numbers of Casual Employees are found in Accommodation and Food Services with 1081 casual employees (35.38%) and Retail Trade, 824 casual employees (26.97%). The casualisation of the workforce is higher in industries which support the visitor economy, and work can be seasonal in nature.


A majority of respondents to the survey were small family operated businesses, being either a sole proprietor or partnership, with quite a number not having vacancies or looking to employ staff.

Business Owners have a clear vision of the employee attributes they are looking for, which align with worker traits and soft or transferrable skills including: communication skills, customer service, reliability, work ethic and appearance.

Businesses also have expectations of potential employees that do not match up to the applicant’s. Businesses also sometimes struggle to compete with wages offered by mining.

There was a need for training and development of new and existing employees with a focus towards on-the-job skills development. Several identified the formal training did not necessarily determine job-readiness, or proficiency of the learned skill required on the job.

Quite often, recruitment methodology is simple and responsive to external stimulus. Businesses still advertise in shop windows, and via local peer networks.

Concerning, was the attitude that businesses are sometimes adverse to local recruitment or perceive that local recruitment can be challenging for a business, however businesses also indicated a preference to use a local employment resource to recruit.


The Cessnock City jobs portal has been jointly funded by the Australian Government and the Cessnock City Council.