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Could prisoners solve Australia’s worst skills shortage in history?

  • Australians behind bars in the June quarter of 2021 remained at a high of 43,073. 
  • New South Wales accounted for more than ¼ of in-mates at 13,181.
  • Australian job vacancies also remain at an all-time high of 333,700.

The number of Australians imprisoned nationally remains elevated, with more than 43,000 people currently behind bars.

This is in contrast to more than 333,700 job vacancies – raising the question about whether some of these roles could be filled by rehabilitated prisoners.

With Australia facing its worst skills shortage in history, inmates may be the key to alleviating some of the labour shortfalls in a number of industries.

New South Wales accounted for more than a quarter of in-mates, with 13,181 prisoners – an increase of 1% for the June quarter.

While Queensland and Western Australia are responsible for 9,954 and 6,726 inmates respectively.

Indigenous rates of incarceration are still stubbornly high despite renewed government and community focus on rehabilitation programs.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are overrepresented in the criminal justice system with one in three prisoners identifying as first nations people.

Meantime, job vacancies hit 333,700 in the three months to August 2021, down 9.8% from the prior quarter’s all-time high.

The level of job vacancies is 46.5% higher than the pre-pandemic rate in February 2020.

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