How is Canberra’s job market looking in 2015?

The short answer is, very promising!

Trying to predict Canberra’s uniquely volatile employment market is often fraught with challenges. Although our market is largely dominated by Government business and recruitment activity, recent recruitment activity has been positive, and we are confident that we are now heading towards a market recovery over the next 12 – 18 months.

In early 2014, recruitment activity was sparse, hitting a low not seen since Howard’s “razor gang” period in 1999. As we come out of a very difficult year for the market, we are asked on a daily basis where we think things are headed in 2015.

HorizonOne has the benefit of a finger on the pulse of the market which gives us day by day insight to support our prediction of a stronger market including:.

  • From September to December 2014, HorizonOne had a surge in new jobs, up 150% from the preceding 3 month period (June – August)
  • Unusually, December was our biggest month of the calendar year and the first 2 weeks of January yielded 35 new jobs – and counting!

Our observations are supported by some positive trends in the broader market including:

  • Job ads placed on major job board SEEK trended up by 20% in NSW towards the end of 2014
  • 39% of Australian employees surveyed by SEEK are anticipating a move into a new role in 2015
  • The ABS reported an upwards trend in new job vacancies and a drop in unemployment figures Nationally

Whilst a lot of this new activity is driven by hourly-rate contract work within Government, permanent recruitment has increased. Since August 2014, 20% of our new work has been permanent recruitment, largely from the private sector. This is an increase from only 12% in the previous period. We are also seeing a steady increase in the advertising of permanent roles across all markets, which is an encouraging sign. We believe this trend will continue securely and return permanent recruitment to 35% of HorizonOne’s business ‘mix’ by the end of 2016.

If the jobs slump in Canberra is over and the ‘upswing’ is commencing, what else needs to be considered?

The Commonwealth Freeze

We predict that the Commonwealth Government recruitment ‘freeze’ will end by the end of 2015, or at the very latest after the next election.  Our assessment is that we will start to see permanent recruitment in the Commonwealth slowly start to increase through the interim period however, if the Liberals remain, it is unlikely to reach peak levels for a number of years to come.

Continued moves towards privatization of Government functions

Strong trends are emerging favouring outsourcing in the wake of reduced APS activity. Ultimately, the Commonwealth Government  looking to create cost savings and drive results. Consultancy firms are reporting constant growth with many public servants seizing the opportunity to make the switch to their ranks while conditions are favourable to do so. Recruitment companies are seeing a return to the systematic use of hourly rate contractors to support core functions or for access to independent subject matter experts.

More job cuts?

Although The Canberra Times are predicting further ‘massive job cuts’ to the APS as a result of large scale outsourcing and the development of shared services, the Liberals are yet to progress beyond scoping studies with organisations like Defence Housing Australia and the Royal Australian Mint. More delays and battles are expected before any progress is made, and some very astute political manoeuvring will be required to succeed.  We will potentially see further APS cuts, however this will take some time.

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How is Canberra’s job market looking in 2015?