There was a time in Australia when almost everyone was suffering from a skills shortage — that time was 2007.

Updated research from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations shows that the Australian labour market has been softening over the past five years in terms of skills shortages.

“Skill shortages were markedly less widespread in 2011-12 than they were in 2007-08, but employers seeking to recruit workers with specialist skills and experience continued to have difficulty recruiting,” said the report.

Recruitment difficulty, it seems, is the new skills shortage. The term is defined as a state where there are qualified applicants, but some employees have difficulty in finding suitable workers. An example of this is looking for specialist skills in a job posting.

As IT people, it should sound familiar. No lack of applicants, but who has the seven years of experience on iOS development necessary to meet the job criteria to get past the recruitment flack? (People who can meet this claim should be hired on the spot for their time-travelling capabilities alone.)

A look at the graph below shows how much of the skills shortage has been replaced by recruitment difficulty.

The discussion of IT jobs needs to be reframed from a shortage of skills to a difficulty in finding adequately experienced specialists. Unfortunately, though, this does not invoke the desired emotive responses in the general populace.

Despite many reports on skills shortages released today, one of the few instances where IT got a look-in was on the below graph, which shows IT employment increasing over the year to November 2012.

While IT may be leading the drop on the Internet Vacancy Index, it is, as ever, not as bad as it appears at first glance.