Employment spotlight on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast has always had a reputation for its sunshine and sand but new investment in science and technology is changing the shape of the city’s employment market. While tourism will always be a key driver of the economy for the host city of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, growth is emerging in more innovative places.

The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows a high level of job ads in the Gold Coast relative to the past five years and there has been an upward trend over the past four months.

Further growth to the job market is also predicted in a recent report from The Australia Institute, which shows employment in the Gold Coast is expected to grow by around 15% to November 2019. This represents the fastest projected growth of all regions in the state.

“There has been a real push to broaden investment in the Gold Coast for some time and you can feel that the economic strategy is starting to pay off,” says Bruce Davidson, Group CEO of recruitment firm Davidson. “The region is well supported by construction, tourism continues to be an important part of the economy and we’re also seeing a lot of jobs created in the health and sciences field.”

Population on the rise

The Gold Coast population has been growing in recent years and is expected to double by 2050. Darren Buchanan, Managing Director for Queensland at employment firm Hays, says the growth is having a positive impact on the economy and the employment market. “There have been concerns that housing prices in Sydney have peaked, so a lot of people are selling up and moving to the Gold Coast, he explains. “It’s always had the sunshine but the one thing missing was population growth to fuel business.”

The 2018 Commonwealth Games is also creating more opportunities for candidates in the host city. “It has a flow-on effect for almost all local businesses,” says Davidson.

New areas of innovation

SEEK data shows that job ads for the Gold Coast’s science and technology industry doubled in October compared to the same time last year. The Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct has been a source of new growth for the industry. Home to the new state-of-the-art Gold Coast University Hospital and a range of health, science and technology businesses, as well as innovative start-ups and co-working spaces, the Precinct was designed to accelerate the growth of the Gold Coast economy through the creation of jobs. “It has really broadened the employment base,” says Davidson.

Buchanan says that the Precinct has also helped to modernise the perception of the Gold Coast. “It’s helping to attract new technology companies,” he says. “The new style of technology entrepreneurs want a balance of lifestyle and work and the Gold Coast allows them to have that. Yes, it’s still a playground with its sun and surf, but there are now so many more opportunities for business and for employment.”

Industries on the rise

Job ad growth was seen across the majority of industries in the Gold Coast in October. Insurance and superannuation grew by 83% year-on-year while SEEK job ads for retail and consumer projects were up by 22%. “An increase in population is always a good sign for retail,” says Buchanan. “The revamp of the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre has also given retail a boost.”

The Gold Coast’s construction industry also experienced a year-on-year increase in October, with job ads rising by 37% year-on-year. “There are a lot of projects associated with the Commonwealth Games,” says Davidson. “There are also a significant number of residential developments.”

Construction growth appeared to have a flow-on effect for trades and services, which saw a year-on-year increase of 3%, while design and architecture was up by 25% and real estate and property grew by 23%.

Sales sees a decline

Not all industries experienced year-on-year growth in October. Job ads for sales were down by 27%, however Davidson suggests this figure may be coming off a high base. “The sales industry is in good shape and we’re seeing growth in most areas of the state.”

Job opportunities for Advertising, Arts and Media were also down by 10%. Davidson attributes this to traditional advertising roles moving into digital marketing and points to the fact that the marketing and communications industry saw a year-on-year increase in SEEK ads rising of 41%.

Senior leadership roles also experienced a decline in October with CEO and general management down by 56% year-on-year. Buchanan explains that there are fewer large organisations in the Gold Coast and this corresponds to fewer senior leadership roles. “This means that when people do land these roles, they like to stay in them, so we tend to see less movement,” he says.

As the Gold Coast gears up to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018, experts predict even more activity for the employment market. “There's just no question that it’s having both a direct and an indirect influence on employment numbers,” says Davidson.