Job ads increase across Australia
The Australian employment market was back in fine form in May with SEEK job ads rising by 8.5% year-on-year and almost every industry was on the up.

Michael Ilczynski, Managing Director for SEEK Employment, says the good news was shared across most of the country.  “Most states and territories across Australia experienced positive job advertising growth in May, which is suggestive of an improving labour market,” he says. “The big surprise has been the strength of the Western Australian labour market. Advertising on SEEK across the state increased 16.1% year-on-year in May, which is eight consecutive months of positive advertising growth on SEEK.”

Trends across the industries

Job ads increased across the vast majority of industries in May. The only industry to experience a decline was advertising, arts and media, which was down by 7% and the average advertised salary was $75,891.

The mining, resources and energy industry was out in front with job ads rising by 90% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $110,390. Matthew Gribble, Regional Managing Director of recruitment firm Michael Page, explains that the lift in commodity prices has improved mining profitability and supported an increase in spending on mineral exploration.

“This a good sign for the mining industry and for Western Australia, after five years of tough times,” he says. “Combined with increased spending on maintenance and repair of existing projects, we see the lift in exploration as helping to stabilise mining investment in the coming quarters. Lithium and gold are breathing life back into the mining sector with upwards of $5 billion invested this year and WA already supports almost 30% of the world's lithium production. It is set to increase that by the beginning of 2018 if the amount of projects pending and in progress proceed.”

The construction industry maintained its upward trend in May with job ads rising by 25% and the average advertised salary was $107,893. “The Australian construction market is continuing to experience high periods of growth, particularly in the Queensland, Victoria and NSW markets,” says Gribble. “We have continued to see an increase in salaries being offered to strong candidates with industry experience within both the residential and commercial sectors. For senior management or director appointments, we have also noted across the past 12 months that in-demand candidates have been able to negotiate lucrative bonuses linked to performance and achieving certain construction project goals. The most in-demand positions that we are seeing are site managers, project managers, estimators and also contract administrators across all sectors.

Job ads for administration and office support also increased by 10% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $57,316. Andrew Morris, Australian Director of recruitment firm Robert Half, says this may be a sign of general business growth. “When companies are growing, they tend to need more back-office staff because obviously there's more revenue generation from the front office staff,” he explains. “There are a lot more new opportunities, whereas before many of the roles were replacements.”

Meanwhile, banking and financial services saw a year-on-year lift of 5% and the average advertised salary was $89,048. Morris notes it will be interesting to see how the proposed new bank tax impacts the industry in the coming months. “I think there will be an analysis of what the future looks like and what efficiencies the banks can draw on in order to make some good business decisions in the second half of the year,” he says.

Industry Spotlight

With the end of the financial year looming, year-on-year job ad growth for the accounting sector has remained flat from March to May 2017, when compared to the same three-month period last year.

David Hassett, Managing Director for The Hassett Group, a specialist recruitment agency for the accounting & finance sector, agreed that flat growth across the accounting sector is a result of technological advances, as well as a combination of other factors, including the current economic climate.

“Over the past 12 months there has been a lack of movement across the accounting sector. We’ve seen many senior redundancies and people choosing to stay in their current roles; this has created a market with less job opportunities and growth,” explained Hassett.

“Many traditional accounting roles have also become superseded by automated accounting software innovations. Plus, many Australian firms are outsourcing their shared services overseas for commerce reasons, which is also adversely impacting job opportunities and growth across the Australian accounting sector,” Hassett continued.

Learn more about trends in the accounting sector in this month’s industry spotlight.

Growth across the states

May was a positive month across most the country. While WA showed further positive signs, job ads in South Australia were up by 20.1% year-on-year while Tasmania grew by 15.2% over the same period and Queensland saw a 12.4% lift.

Job ads in Victoria rose by 9.1% compared to the same time last year and the Northern Territory followed close behind with growth of 9%.

“Encouragingly, the NSW labour market looks to be improving with job ads up 4.6% year-on-year in May,” says Ilczynski.

Meanwhile, ACT experienced a small slip of 0.5% year-on-year in May.

Competition for talent

The latest SEEK data shows that, in general, there are elevated levels of candidate availability, especially in regional locations. However, Morris says employers may need to look at the bottom line to attract the best talent.

“Even though statistics of wage inflation have been almost non-existent, we are seeing growth in salaries,” he says. “The market is really beginning to move forward in this regard and this is something employers will need to consider when engaging candidates. Softer qualities will also help lure candidates, such as flexibility, work-life balance, additional benefits, training and management.”

May delivered positive growth across the majority of industries and the good results were spread across almost every corner of the country. Let’s hope the momentum continues.