MORE than two thirds of Australian companies had their growth plans curtailed by the shortage of skilled labour, a survey of 492 chief executives by the Australian Industry Group and Deloitte has found. The survey showed that the Australian labour force would need to add more than 200,000 full-time workers to ease the skills shortage. Six out of 10 firms blamed the skills shortage for restricting innovation. “Skills shortages are also restricting the innovative ability of Australian firms and this places the future competitiveness of many companies at risk,” the Skilling For Innovation report says. It concluded that 180,000 to 240,000 full-time employees would need to join the workforce to ease skills shortages. Construction and services firms were more likely to be affected by the skills shortage, the survey found. “Large firms and firms in the construction sector reported the highest skills shortage across problem solving, teamwork, communication and adapting to change,” the report says. Technicians and people with trades skills were the hardest workers to find.