SEEK Employment Trends: March brings positive momentum, with design and architecture leading the charge

With business conditions at their highest level since 2008, according to NAB’s monthly business survey, the job market was looking up in March 2016.

The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows SEEK job ads increased by 6.3% year-on-year and the month also delivered some encouraging news for the resources-rich state of Western Australia. NAB’s monthly business survey also reported positive business conditions in March 2016. It showed a rise of 3 points to +12 and the result was driven by an improvement in trade, profit and employment.

Mark Smith, director of recruitment firm People2People, says an improvement in business confidence was reflected in the increased volume of job ads on SEEK. “If businesses are feeling good, they tend to create jobs,” he says.

Trends across the sectors

The design and architecture industry was out in front in terms of year-on-year job ad growth. SEEK recorded 19% more job ads for this sector in March 2016 compared to the same time last year and the average advertised salary was $78,964.

Tim Sternberg, marketing and communications director at recruitment firm Randstad, attributes the growth to Australia’s construction boom. “There are quite a number of large construction projects in the pipeline, so demand for architecture and high-end design is strong,” he says.

Australia’s construction industry experienced an 8% year-on-year increase in job ads on SEEK and the average advertised salary was $108,165. There has been a reduction in the level of candidate availability for this sector over the past four months.

The community services and development sector saw a year-on-year increase in SEEK job ads of 9% and the average advertised salary in March 2016 was $69,271.

SEEK Employment managing director, Michael Ilczynski, says there is increasing pressure on government to provide services to support those most vulnerable in our community. “The community services and development sector’s growth is heavily dependent on government funding and policy,” he says. “The growth we are seeing in our job ad volume in this category is perhaps a reflection of the increasing pressure government is under to support programs and initiatives that support those in our communities.”

Although the majority of sectors saw a growth in SEEK job ads in March 2016, some experienced a slip. There was a decline in job ads for the administration and office support sector, which was down year-on-year by 3% and the average advertised salary was $55,443.

The accounting sector also experienced a decline of 9% compared to the same time last year and the average advertised salary was $82,968. The banking and financial services sector recorded an average advertised salary of $87,098 and saw a year-on-year reduction in job ads. Although SEEK job ads were down by 11%, Sternberg says there is still plenty of activity within key areas in the banking and financial services sector. “Currently we still see steady growth across planners, lending-based roles, risk and compliance,” he says.

A snapshot of the states

Job advertising trends on SEEK remained strongest in the non-mining states of NSW, Tasmania, ACT and Victoria. March 2016 also delivered good news for South Australia, where the level of job ads is recovering.

Western Australians will be pleased to know that job ads across the state appeared to stabilise in March 2016. While WA has registered declines of 4­–5% over the past three months, job ads dipped by only 0.2% in March 2016.

Job ads in Queensland have been oscillating between small increases and slightly larger decreases in recent months. That said, there are a number of industries showing positive year-on-year growth. “We are seeing the first glimmers of improvement in Queensland,” says Smith. “Our experience in 2015 was that there was a lot of talent in the market that was under-utilised and obviously the state was affected by the downturn in the resources sector. But things are starting to change, which is good.”

Candidate availability

There was a mild overall tightening of the labour market in March 2016, which was most noticeable across NSW, Victoria and ACT. Applications per SEEK job ad were high and stable in South Australia, and high and tightening in Queensland.

Candidate availability was lowest in design and architecture, and education and training – two industries that recorded increased levels of SEEK job ads. Sternberg says demand for candidates has been particularly strong in early childhood education. “There’s a lack of talent to keep up with demand,” he says.

Candidate availability in industries such as sales, and insurance and superannuation was high in March 2016 relative to the past five years and applications per SEEK job ad have been increasing in these sectors in recent months.

The year-on-year growth in job ads on SEEK reflected the encouraging boost in business conditions across Australia. Let’s hope the positive momentum continues in the months ahead.

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