SEEK Employment Trends: spotlight on South Australia

With a growth in infrastructure projects, a new jobs incentive program and the green light to build a new fleet of submarines, South Australia may have received the confidence boost it has needed.

The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends also shows promising signs of recovery for the state’s employment market, with SEEK job ads rising for the fifth consecutive month.

Michael Ilczynski, Managing Director of SEEK Employment, notes that this growth comes after a long period of weakness in South Australian job advertising. “It suggests the South Australian labour market and economy has turned the corner and was probably improving even before the recent positive announcements on defence spending,” he says.

SEEK job ads across the state

SEEK job ads across SA rose by 12% year-on-year in June 2016. “It’s been a strong first half of the year,” says John Thompson, General Manager – South Australia at recruitment firm Hudson. “In fact, we’ve had our best first half-year results since 2012. There have been major road projects announced for Adelaide, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital project and there’s been talk of a redevelopment of the city’s entertainment precinct. It’s all having an impact on confidence.”

Thompson notes that many new roles are also being created across the state. “Hiring is not just about companies replacing roles, it’s now about whether they can take a punt on work coming through in the next 3–6 months,” he says. “We just need to see this translated in the economy because we are still slower than many other states and have even fallen behind Tasmania in terms of our growth rate.”

This may be set to improve with the South Australian Government unveiling a $109 million jobs incentives program in early July. The centrepiece of its budget, the program aims to help stimulate the local economy and encourage business to hire more staff. The government hopes the scheme will create up to 14,000 more jobs.

A boost for manufacturing

While the $50 billion submarine build is not expected to start until after 2020, the contract is welcome news for South Australia’s troubled manufacturing industry. Its Holden plant is due to close next year, Alinta Energy's Port Augusta power station in South Australia's north closed in May and the future of Arrium’s Whyalla steel operations remains uncertain.

Despite this, SEEK job ads for the state’s manufacturing, transport and logistics industry increased by 23% year-on-year in June 2016. Anthony Whyte, General Manager – South Australia at recruitment firm Talent International, describes this result as a pleasant surprise. “Most businesses in manufacturing have been doing it tough,” he says.

“We haven’t really had too many businesses come into fill the void of those that have closed. The submarine project won’t start for a couple of years, but that will be a great thing. I suspect that the growth in job ads for the sector may be more about transport than manufacturing.”

Trends across the sectors

The human resources and recruitment sector experienced the greatest increase in job ads across SA, rising by 65% year-on-year. Thompson says this is a great result for an industry that has experienced challenges in recent times. “The HR market has had a hard time over the past 2–3 years,” he says.

“We saw a lot of head offices downsizing their regional teams and centralising in Sydney or Melbourne and leveraging HR resources from interstate. Most of the HR roles we’ve been seeing lately have been across universities, not-for-profits and local councils.”

SEEK job ads for the state’s CEO and general management sector were also up by 48% year-on-year. Thompson regards this as another sign of growing confidence. “We’ve had more CEO roles come up in the past six months than the past 12–18 months,” he says. “They’re generally not new roles – it’s more a sign of a merry-go-round as people move on. Generally, people don’t move in and out of roles in bad times as it’s a risky move.”

SEEK job ads for the construction sector was up by 49% year-on-year, while ads for trades and services increased by 26% compared to the same time last year and the engineering sector rose by 43% year-on-year.

“We haven’t seen a lot of engineering jobs here for a while but that’s changing now,” says Thompson. “Even though direct employment opportunities through the submarines won’t be noticed for a while, there will be a demand for procurement and engineering roles before the actual build starts because we need to get the sites ship shape.”

Although not all sectors experienced year-on-year job ad growth across the state in June 2016. The accounting sector saw the greatest decline with ads down by 17%. “Businesses aren’t really investing in junior processing and financial accounting roles anymore,” says Thompson. “They’ve gone overseas or interstate. Businesses are investing in financial and business analysists and commercially-savvy accountants who can drive business outcomes rather than just keep score.”

South Australia’s information and communications technology sector also saw a small decline in job ads of 3%. “We have seen the volume decline and permanent recruitment for the sector has been quite volatile,” says Whyte. “On the flipside, though, contracting roles are going very well. Government, in particular, has been resourcing for their projects to match the scope of work, so they’ve been getting more contractors in than full-time staff.”

Despite a decline in some sectors, South Australia has been recording an overall positive job ad growth in recent months.

Stay up-to-date with the latest employment marketplace developments by signing up to the SEEK Employment Trends monthly email.