Western Australia and Queensland show signs of recovery
The New Year got off to a promising start for Australia’s employment market. The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows job ads are on the rise and experts say employers may need to be more savvy with their retention strategies. 

SEEK job ads increased by 7% year-on-year in January. Michael Ilczynski, SEEK Employment Managing Director, says the result marks the fourth consecutive monthly increase and may be a sign of more growth to come. “If current rates are maintained, the annual level of job ad growth would rise to around 8-9%,” he explains. “This kind of rate has not been experienced over the past 15 months.”

Much of the market’s performance has been driven by signs of recovery in Western Australia and Queensland. “Although these two states continue to have the weakest markets for job ads, they are trending higher and this is certainly good news,” adds Ilczynski.

Industries on the rise

Year-on-year job ad growth was experienced across the majority of industries in January. Mining, resources and energy led the way, with job ads rising by 52% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $110,292.

Construction also continued its strong performance. Job ads were up by 27% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $105,850.

“Construction is not showing any sign of slowing down in Victoria and we’re also seeing growth in Queensland,” says Marianna Mood, General Manager of recruitment firm Adecco. “Projects such as NorthConnex and WestConnex in NSW are also creating more opportunities.”

Healthcare and medical saw an increase of 13% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $87,279. Hospitality and tourism also rose by 10% and the average advertised salary was $60,574. Meanwhile, job ads for accounting were up by 2% and the average advertised salary was $83,019.

“Some of the transactional and process-driven accounting roles are still being sent offshore but we’re seeing a real demand for skills in revenue growth and cost control,” says Darran Butcher, Director of the Parramatta office of recruitment firm Robert Walters. “Accountants are also increasingly expected to work in partnership with other areas of a business, such as sales.”

The human resources and recruitment industry also delivered positive results with year-on-year job ad growth of 11% and the average advertised salary was $82,447. Butcher says there is growing demand for HR professionals with a broad mix of skills. “One skill in constant demand is the ability to develop strong employee retention strategies,” he explains.

Small decline across three sectors

Only three industries experienced a slip in year-on-year job ad growth. Real estate and property declined by just 1% and the average advertised salary was $70,445. Job ads for call centres and customer service were also down by 2% and the average advertised salary was $57,678.

The banking and financial services industry continued to see a year-on-year job decline in ads, however it was a short fall of just 1% in January and the average advertised salary was $89,019.

Despite this decline, Butcher points to areas of growth within the industry. We’re still seeing a big appetite for risk and compliance roles within banking and finance,” he says.

Growing strength in South Australia

The good news continued for South Australia in January with job ad levels remaining on the rise. The state recorded high rates of advertising relative to the past five years and the trend has been growing of the past four months.

Victoria, Tasmania and ACT also recorded strong results over this period. While job ads in NSW and the Northern Territory have been experiencing high levels of job ads relative to the past five years, the trend has remained flat over the past four months.

A focus on retention

The latest SEEK research shows that 47% of Australians are thinking of applying for a new job in 2017, indicating it may be time to reflect on retention strategies.

“Salary is not the main reason why they plan to move,” explains Butcher. He says candidates are more likely to move jobs in order to follow their interest and passions. Butchers adds that employers need to focus on how they address the growing need for clear career pathways that align to a candidate’s needs. "Culture is another important value for employees, so it’s essential to create a positive environment where people feel they are recognised and valued.”

Mood adds that employers must deliver on the promises they make in interviews. “It’s fine to say that you have a strong culture and offer career progression, but when a candidate starts a job, they will expect to see this in action,” she says.

“Initiatives such as monthly reviews to focus on how an employee is tracking in their goals is one way to show that you are serious about their career,” adds Mood. “Survey and after survey shows employees want learning and development plans. We also know that flexibility is a growing expectation and, while salary is not always a key driver, pay must be competitive. These are all important things for employers to focus on this year.”