Job ad growth continues in Western Australia and Queensland
The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows job ads were up by 8% year-on-year and the majority of industries experienced growth.

The positive results from February represent the strongest job ad growth trend since September 2015. Michael Ilczynski, SEEK Employment Managing Director, says Queensland and Western Australia are adding to the good news.

“These were the states hit hardest by the mining downturn, so it’s encouraging to see signs of growth,” he says. “WA job ads rose for the fifth consecutive month in February and are now trending higher at around 1.2% per month. In Queensland, we saw 0.6% growth in trend terms for the month. This is a positive sign for both employers and candidates across the states.”

Industries on the rise

Job ads for consulting and strategy saw a 23% year-on-year lift in job ads in February and the average advertised salary was $112,244. Vanessa Harding-Farrenberg,
 joint managing director of recruitment firm Morgan McKinley, attributes this growth to companies seeking a competitive advantage. “Many companies are trying to be smarter and are setting up strategy teams within innovation hubs,” she says. “Companies are getting more serious about how they approach their strategic plans. A focus on the customer experience and the use of big data are increasingly important to strategic planning.”

Engineering also experienced year-on-year growth with job ads up by 20% in February and the average advertised salary was $103,922. “The baseline for engineering roles has been quite low in recent times,” says Dean Davidson, Executive General Manager, Australia and New Zealand, with recruitment firm Hudson. “There’s no doubt that the engineering field has been under some pressure, especially in the mining sector in Queensland and Western Australia. However, we’re now seeing more infrastructure projects in states like New South Wales and Victoria and that’s having a positive impact on civil and structural engineering roles.”

SEEK job ads for CEO and general management roles also increased by 9% compared to the same time last year. “I don’t think there is an increase in senior management and leadership roles in the market but perhaps there’s more willingness to move and that triggers increased demand,” says Davidson.

Job ads in the construction industry continued to be strong in February. They were up by 16% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $106,715. The related field of trades and services was also up by 14% and the average advertised salary was $63,004.

Meanwhile, SEEK job ads for the accounting industry saw a small increase of 1% compared to the same time last year and the average advertised salary was $82,561. Andrew Morris, director at recruitment firm Robert Half, says technology is having a significant impact on the desired skill set of accountants.

“As financial digitisation and workplace automation continue to shape the financial landscape in 2017, this will drive demand for finance professionals with well-developed IT skills,” he says. “This means job seekers will need to upgrade their skill sets to keep in-line with growing industry demand for specialists and display their well-adept IT and analytical skills during the interview process.”

A decline in banking and financial services

While many industries saw job ad growth in February, sectors such as banking and financial services were down by 7% and the average advertised salary was $88,093. “Financial institutions are large, complex organisations and there’s a lot of fluctuation in demand due to the diversity of skill sets,” says Davidson. “I think the decline should also be viewed in the context of a high baseline that the industry has experienced in recent years in terms of headcount growth.”

The information and communications technology industry also saw a year-on-year decline of 8% and the average advertised salary was $102,436. Morris says there is still a lot of activity in the market. “Professionals who specialise in cyber-security, client-side technologies and 'big data' will continue to be in demand and will find an abundance of new work available, both contract and permanent,” he says.

Trends across the country

High levels of job advertising have been noted in Victoria, ACT, Tasmania and South Australia relative to the past five years and this trend has been increasing over the past four months.

While NSW and Northern Territory remain in a strong position relative to the past five years, the trend has been flat in recent months. Meanwhile, Queensland’s job ads have been strengthening over the past four months and although the level remains weak in WA, the market is showing welcome signs of recovery.

“Overall, we have a strong and optimistic employment market right now,” says Davidson. “Companies seem confident to pursue their growth plans and that’s good news for everyone.”

Learn more about employment trends in this month's Industry spotlight on HR and recruitment