SEEK Employment Trends: spotlight on Sydney, New South Wales



The Emerald City was shining brightly in March 2016 with an increase in SEEK job ads across the majority of industries. While the inner suburbs of Sydney continue to be the employment hot spots for industries such as construction, experts are now seeing promising signs of growth in the city’s west.


Sydney’s job market has been increasingly strong over recent months. This trend is reflected across much of New South Wales, which experienced a year-on-year boost in SEEK job ads of 14.9% in March 2016 and a mild tightening of candidate availability.

“It feels like Sydney and NSW have returned to the front of the pack over the past 18 months,” says Mark Smith, director of recruitment firm People2People. “We’re not the poor cousin to WA anymore now that the resources boom is over and you can really feel that in the marketplace. Business confidence is up and that’s because, as a state, we’re back.”

Growth goes west


Sydney’s CBD has always been its economic focus; however, Smith says the western suburbs are experiencing growth. “It’s like western Sydney is really shaping its own identity. It’s an interesting area to watch,” he says.

“When you look out the window of our Parramatta office, you can see 13 cranes in the sky because the area is really beginning to build up,” adds Smith. “Traffic is also a nightmare in Sydney so people are wanting to work close to where they live, so that may also be having an influence on growth in this area of the city. I think the market in western Sydney is bigger than Brisbane and Adelaide put together. It’s untapped.”

Dylan White, partner with recruitment firm Denovo, says the entire city has a growing influence on the global stage. “It has always been a city of influence and, as the rest of the country has caught up, we are seeing Sydney take an even greater step into the spotlight,” he says. “It’s become the first major city in Oceania to operate in similar ways to New York or London. Traditionally, if you were an American company you would go to Europe and then Singapore or Hong Kong for expansion. Now international companies are seeing a huge talent pool in Sydney.”
White says this may be contributing to the increase in SEEK job ads for sectors such as CEO and general management, which saw a year-on-year boost of 35% in March 2016.

“Companies that are coming across from the US and Europe are starting their presence with just a few people and then they build brand awareness and employ a senior management team,” he explains.

Construction on the horizon


The Sydney skyline is a good indication of the city’s growth. “There are so many cranes out there,” says Smith. “It almost worries me because there is such a boom in construction and after a boom there is always a bust.”

Sydney’s construction sector experienced a 21% year-on-year increase in SEEK job ads in March 2016. Related industries, such as design and architecture, grew by 14% compared to the same time last year and SEEK job ads for trades and services were up by 24% year-on year. Meanwhile, Sydney’s real estate and property sector saw year-on-year growth in SEEK job ads of 9%.

White notes that the construction boom is creating a backlog of work for these related industries. “I think they will settle down when they catch up with the rate of construction,” he says.

A slip in four sectors


Looking at March 2016 data, only four industries experienced year-on year declines in job ads in Sydney. Sales roles dipped only 1%; however, Smith says the industry remains steady. “We haven’t felt any change,” he says. “There’s still organic demand for sales roles.”

Job ads for the farming, animals and conservation sector were down by 19% and in the accounting industry they declined by 8%. Meanwhile, the banking and financial services sector saw a decrease of 4%.

Smith says the decline in job ads in banking and financial services may be the result of cost cutting. “Margins are being squeezed and when you need to cut costs, you tend to go offshore,” he says. “This sector offshored a lot of customer service roles some time ago and then did it again with transactional accounting roles. It’s happening now to some extent with analyst roles but, as far as I’m concerned, there’s still a lot of activity in the market here.”

As Sydney continues to assert itself as a global city, White says its job market will continue to shine. “Australia is now a more influential hub for technology and finance and we have a lot of resources that we can provide the global economy. As a result of that, Sydney is naturally the centre point for where we sit as a nation.”


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