SEEK Employment Trends: WA jobs market appears to be stabilising

The Australian job market was looking up as we entered the new financial year. The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends showed a year-on-year increase in job ads and labour demand in Western Australia appeared to stabilise, which is promising news for the overall economy.

Although SEEK job ads increased 2.5% year-on-year in July 2016, the rate of growth was slightly less than that seen in June 2016. Michael Ilczynski, Managing Director of SEEK Employment, says this may have been due to the nail-biting results of the recent Federal Election. “It is possible that the uncertain Australian election outcome may have impacted advertising in July,” he notes.

Industries on the move

The government and defence sector was out in front in July 2016, with SEEK job ads increasing by 14% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $92,330. “We’ve seen a jump in government recruitment that’s in line with these statistics,” says Brodie McDougall, Regional Director for Western Australia at recruitment firm Michael Page “We’re still seeing a lot of investment in contract roles in government and some government departments are looking to invest in new directions.”

The engineering industry saw an increase in SEEK job ads of 8% year-on-year in July 2016 and the average advertised salary was $103,271. The farming, animals and conservation industry also experienced an 8% growth over the same period and the average advertised salary was $72,034.

Australia’s robust construction sector continued to see job ad growth. It recorded 7% more job ads in July compared to the same time last year and the average advertised salary was $107,093.

“Construction is particularly strong in the capital cities,” says Lindsey Monroe Ruth, Head of Marketing for recruitment firm Adecco in Australia and New Zealand. “When you walk out of the office in Sydney, you can hardly hear yourself think because of all the work going on.”

SEEK job ads for the marketing and communications industry also experienced growth. They rose by 3% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $87,225. Mark Smith, Director of recruitment firm People2People, says many traditional advertising roles are now sitting within this industry. “The growth in digital marketing means that traditional advertising roles are less in demand and digital marketing skills are more sought after,” he says. “Even administration roles often require skills in social media.”

A decline in some industries

Not all sectors experienced year-on-year growth in July 2016. SEEK job ads for the banking and financial services industry were down by 10% and the average advertised salary was $88,470. McDougall says demand in the industry is divided between front and back-office roles. “Client-facing roles, such as relationship managers, are in greater demand,” he says. “There’s been a greater push for efficiency in the back-office banking and finance roles. It’s been quite flat due to a close focus on cost and headcount.”

SEEK job ads for the mining, resources and energy sector also declined by 5% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $116,880. Despite the decline, McDougall says gold mining is looking more positive and he is also seeing an increasing interest among employers for geologists.

Australia’s accounting industry also experienced a decline in job ads of 12% year-on-year in July 2016 and the average advertised salary was $83,066. Smith attributes the decline to the offshoring of transactional roles, such as accounts payable and reconciliation roles.

“Large practices and public practices are moving transactional roles offshore,” he says. “Entry-level accountants have fewer opportunities in the roles that you need to develop your skillset in and this will have an impact down the track because the current CFOs and finance managers are largely made up of baby boomers and, when they retire, suddenly there will be few people experienced enough to fill those roles.”

Trends across the states

Although WA’s weakness continued in July 2016, the state recorded a slower rate of decline than the period between September 2015 and May 2016. Meanwhile, South Australia continued to show signs of recovery.

“It’s great to see the continued improvement of the South Australian job market after a long period of weakness,” says Ilczynski. “Across the state, the healthcare and medical industry is the top advertiser on SEEK, followed by trades and services, and information and communication technology.”

In Queensland, SEEK job ads were slightly lower year-on-year, while there were modest improvements in the non-mining states of New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT. SEEK job ads in the Northern Territory remained stable, relative to the past four months, and Tasmania recorded high levels of job ads, relative to the past five years; however, this has been stabilising in recent months.

Overall, July 2016 finished on a positive note with a year-on-year increase in SEEK job ads, with signs that the labour market demand in WA may be stabilising.

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