This RIRDC publication examines one of Australia's most pressing economic problems - a shortage of labour. Without adequate supplies of labour, the economic and social functions of businesses are restricted, and the capacity for expansion reduced. Industries and communities within rural Australia have been particularly hard hit by labour shortages, with many small and medium businesses struggling to secure skilled and unskilled labour. The causes of labour shortages are complex, related to a myriad of social, economic and political processes and are geographically and sectorally variable. Understanding this geographical and sectoral variability is fundamental to the design and implementation of effective strategies to tackle labour shortages. The report addresses the critical need for a detailed assessment of the geographical and sectoral aspects of skilled labour shortages in rural Australia. This report is of specific interest to government agencies that have responsibility for social and economic development, diversification and growth in rural areas. It is also of interest to industry groups and community organisations that have an interest in addressing labour shortages.