How automation is impacting the administration industry

The Administration & Office Support industry has long been known for keeping company operations on track.

However, the rise of automation is leading to an evolution of the traditional admin role and experts says this is creating demand for new skills.

The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows job ads for Administration & Office Support increased by 23% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $59,887. While there has been a moderate level of job advertising relative to the past five years, SEEK data shows an upward trend in opportunities over the past four months.

Catherine Kennedy, Director - NSW at recruitment agency people2people, describes the current market as buoyant, however demand is greater in some industries than others. 

“Technology, construction, mining and health-related industries are the most active,” she says. 

“This is driven by continued growth in these sectors as organisations look to capitalise on improved market conditions and overall business confidence.”

The impact of automation

Research suggests the administration industry is vulnerable to automation over the next 10-15 years. Cara McLennan, Manager – Business Support at recruitment agency Hudson, says technology is impacting the industry in various ways. 

“In the first instance, there are a number of role profiles that are slowly disappearing, such as typists or word processors, as the result of voice recognition technology being implemented,” she says.

This may account for the 1% decline in data entry and word processing roles on SEEK in April compared to the same time last year.

However, McLennan also notes that advances in technology are creating new opportunities for experienced office support staff. 

“This includes providing greater flexibility in working arrangements and the development of new role profiles, such as social media administrators,” she says.

Marianna Mood, Managing Director of recruitment agency Adecco, says there is also a growing demand for office managers proficient in the use digital technologies. 

“With more organisations giving employees greater flexibility and adopting more agile work practices, like hot desking, the demand for IT savvy office managers is increasing to help facilitate these kind of working arrangements,” she says. 

Admin roles on the rise

The latest data from SEEK shows opportunities for office managers rose by 31% in April compared to the same time last year. 

Kennedy says the classic office manager role has evolved to include a range of new skills. 
“The office manager role has become more commercial than it once was, with candidates expected to bring financial and technical skills, along with traditional administration skills sets,” she says.

Job ads for receptionists were also up by 21% and Mood says these roles are also in demand as companies focus on enhancing the customer experience. 

“Candidates will also often view the receptionist role as a stepping stone into other office support roles,” she adds.

Attracting the best in admin

While artificial intelligence is set to play a greater role in office administration, it is also creating opportunities for tech-savvy talent. Kennedy says employers may soon be facing tough competition for the best recruits. 

“People are looking to secure better opportunities while the market is strong,” she says.

Kennedy suggests that employers consider their online brand to help attract new talent. 

“Everyone will Google a potential employer and make a judgement on things such as culture, based on what they find prior to an interview,” she says. 

Once a recruit has joined the team, Kennedy says employers must make them feel valued. 

“Flexibility is key to retaining staff, but recognition of the contribution an employee makes to an organisation’s overall success, regardless of their role, ensures higher levels of staff engagement,” she says.

Employers would also be wise to consider their workplace culture when it comes to attracting younger talent, says McLennan. 

“They value a social network within the workplace, achieved through regular scheduled team/ office events.”

McLennan adds that employers who provide flexible working arrangements, frequent feedback and open communication are in the box seat for attracting and retaining top performers. She says that millennial talent in administration and office support are also looking for a greater sense of purpose.

“They are seeking opportunities to ‘give back’ or contribute to their community,” she says. 

Career development is another important motivator that should not be overlooked, says Mood. 

“We are seeing an increased demand for employers to offer clear development plans and upskilling opportunities,” she says. 

“As the need for digital skills becomes increasingly important, candidates want to know their employers will continue to develop them, enabling them to stay relevant in the marketplace.”

As the administration industry continues to evolve, employers will be competing for candidates with the skills required to support the offices of tomorrow. A strong employee brand and a positive, flexible workplace culture will be vital to success.

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SEEK is the destination of choice for job-seekers and hirers in Australia, acting as the conduit between hirers looking to fill vacant roles and candidates looking for work across many and varied industries. SEEK's mission is to help people...

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