SEEK 2020 Trends - employment and salary insights


As 2020 approaches, SEEK examines its employment and salary patterns during 2019 and shares anticipated key trends that could define the coming year.   

Trend One: Public sector holding up employment

Employment growth was propped up by roles in the public sector in 2019, with thousands of jobs advertised throughout the year. The sector saw strong growth, with Education & Training and Healthcare & Medical sectors making big contributions to the employment market. 

In fact, Healthcare & Medical has grown every month since February 2013. The sector grew faster than any other industry this year, at 8.7%. Second place was Community Service & Development (at 8%) which incorporates many carer roles. 

This growth could be attributed primarily to Australia’s growing population, particularly the older generation. Over 15% of the nation is now aged 65 years and over (1 in 6 or 3.9 million), and is heightened by the 49.6% of older Australians that require further healthcare and medical assistance. During 2020, SEEK anticipate frontline social services to continue making significant contributions to job ad growth, with roles such as aged care nurses and aged and disability support workers remaining in high demand.  

Figure 1: YoY percentage increase of job ads throughout 2019.


Kendra Banks, Managing Director for SEEK in Australia and New Zealand, states, “We’ve seen a consistent demand for disability and aged care roles, with nursing, personal care and allied health being predominant drivers of job ad growth. It’s questionable how much more the public sector can boost employment overall, but for these specific industries, there’s no sign of slowing down in the new year.”

Trend Two: Construction (and construction-related trades) at a turning point

In response to falling house prices, property-related construction activity has been subdued throughout 2019. This has translated to a fall in labour demand and increase in supply as more candidates seek work and industries such as the Construction sector slows significantly, with job ads down 17.3% year on year to November. Roles contributing to the industry such as supervisors, forepersons, project managers and machinery operators showed significant decline.  However, in 2020, with state governments investing heavily in public infrastructure projects, especially in NSW and Victoria, the construction and trades industries will be at a potential turning point. The Sydney Metro ($12.0 billion), Western Sydney Airport ($5.3 billion) and WestConnex ($16.0 billion) are among the biggest developments in NSW alone, with the Melbourne Metro Tunnel ($11.0 billion) and West Gate Tunnel ($6.8 billion) driving growth in Victoria.

Kendra Banks states, “These large infrastructure projects will mean there is likely to be plenty of opportunity for skilled workers to seek employment in the new year, as sectors such as Trades and Services, Construction, Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics benefit from the development of these important projects.  The federal government’s decision to bring forward $3.8 billion in infrastructure spending, including $1.8 billion over the next 18 months, means labour demand will be high.  This will be a welcome shift for sectors like Construction, which saw job ad growth hit major lows in April 2019, down -23.2% in comparison to the year before.”  

SEEK job ads and salary data also show candidate mobility trends, highlighting the distance people are willing to go to secure work in the construction industry.  

  • In Sydney, 31.5% of candidates are applying from regional, interstate and overseas
  • Melbourne has 29.5% of construction applicants applying from Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and overseas, with a small number of applicants are applying from regional areas 
  • Brisbane is particularly interesting. 42.2% of applications for construction roles are from the Gold Coast, Sydney, overseas, Melbourne and also regional areas, in Queensland and interstate. 

Trend Three: Permanent vs Temporary work holding steady

The demand for temporary employment has flattened over the past three years, even in industries that typically rely on temporary workers, like Retail and Information Communications Technology (ICT). 

However, over the long term, the percentage of temporary jobs has grown. In particular, Hospitality & Tourism is showing signs of increased reliance on temporary workers (35% in 2019, up from 31.7% in 2017).  Community Services & Development also looks to be relying on temporary work, with the split sitting at 34.7% temporary and 65.3% full time.  Temporary work is accounting for a larger share of employment, and while there is no evidence to suggest this will accelerate significantly through 2020, it is part of a longer-term trend that we’re continuing to see.

Figure 2: Percentage breakdown of permanent and temporary jobs from 2007-2019.

Trend Four: Financial Services watching their risk

Throughout 2017-2018 there was a significant rise in demand for Risk & Compliance roles in the financial services sector, stimulated by the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. In 2019, this demand plateaued to a ‘new normal’.

SEEK expects Risk and Compliance will continue being a core focus for the private sector more broadly in the new year, as business continue to respond to more active regulators. Compliance officers, directors of risk and audit, operations risk and risk and business continuity roles are contributing to job growth in the sector.