SEEK Employment Trends: job ads bounce back strongly, with Queensland and Western Australia showing signs of improvement

August 2016 delivered more good news for the Australian employment market with a year-on-year growth in SEEK job ads and promising results month-on-month across every state and territory. Experts say demand for talent is hotting up, so employers may need to work harder to attract and retain the very best.

The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows job ads increased by 4.7% in August 2016 compared to the same time last year. The month also delivered encouraging news for the Western Australia market, which saw its first monthly increase in advertised roles since August 2015.

“The largest year-on-year growth was seen in the Australian Capital Territory (up 15.5%) and South Australia (up 14.6%) this August,” says Michael Ilczynski, Managing Director for SEEK Employment.

“A notable month-on-month increase was seen for Western Australia, which saw job ads increase 2.1% month-on-month, which was the state’s largest increase in job ads in more than a year,”

Industries on the rise

The majority of industries experienced year-on-year job ad growth in August 2016. Following on from July 2016, the government and defence industry maintained its leading position with an increase of 59% and the average advertised salary in August was $90,372.

Christine Liew, Client Solutions Manager at recruitment firm Adecco Group, says demand across the industry is growing. “We are seeing definite growth in specialised areas such as planning and policy within the government sector,” she says. “We’re also seeing a growth in permanent roles rather than temporary roles.”

SEEK job ads across the construction industry also continued to grow, rising by 28% year-on-year with an average advertised salary of $105,139 in August 2016. Shaun McCambridge, Managing Director of Stellar Recruitment, is seeing growth in construction across a range of states. “We’re seeing massive demand, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria,” he says. “We’re also seeing a resurgence across the industry in Queensland.”

In good news for the banking and financial services sector, SEEK job ads increased year-on-year in August 2016 after consecutive months of decline. Job ads were up by 7% compared to the same time last year and the average advertised salary in August was $86,970.

Andrew Brushfield, Director Victoria and Western Australia at recruitment firm Robert Half, says companies are expecting more from their finance professionals and increasing regulatory requirements is adding to the demands. “Businesses are increasing their reporting responsibilities and there is a requirement for more transparency,” he explains.

SEEK job ads for the information and communications technology sector also increased in August 2016. They were up by 10% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $101,927.

Brushfield notes that specialised skills within the sector are in demand. “For specialised skill sets like technology – and even finance and accounting – companies really need to look after their employees because the market suggests there will be other opportunities out there for them,” he says. “Employers can’t take their foot off the gas – they need to think about what their people need, and this doesn’t always mean more money.”

Job ads in the mining, resources and energy industry were up by 17% year-on-year and the average advertised salary in August 2016 was $115,554. “With the price of coal improving since the start of the year and gold and copper continuing to do well, we’re seeing positive sentiment in this space,” says McCambridge. “We’re also seeing machine purchases and other capital expenditure, which is another positive sign. It’s the most positive we’ve seen the industry since 2012.”

A slip for the sales sector

The sales industry was the only sector to experience a year-on-year decline in SEEK job ads in August 2016. It slipped by 7% and the average advertised salary was $80,368.

McCambridge is surprised by this result as he says sales talent is among the most challenging to recruit. “Effective, result-driven sales people are among the hardest job categories to recruit across all sectors,” he says. “Also, while roles across some industries are susceptible to automation in the future, sales roles require empathy, soft skills and relationship development, and this makes it a hard job category to automate. There are certainly candidates out there, but finding the right skill set can be a challenge.”

Trends across the states

August 2016 delivered promising results across each state and territory with no signs of month-on-month SEEK job ad decline. While increases were recorded in NSW and Victoria, Queensland experienced its fourth consecutive month of trend growth and Western Australia also recorded a rise.

However, experts say the market in WA remains tight. “A few years ago, we used to talk about the two-speed economy when WA and Queensland were firing due to the resources sector, while NSW and Victoria were feeling pressure from the fall-out of the GFC,” says Brushfield. “Now the opposite is the case – there are signs of growth but it’s still tight in WA.”

Advertising trends were strongest in South Australia and the ACT in August 2016. While SEEK job ads remain stable in Tasmania and have been increasing in the Northern Territory over the past four months.

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