What’s happening in Canberra’s Job market? HorizonOne’s Bi-annual Review
As HorizonOne approaches its 10 year anniversary this April, we are also preparing for another huge year of recruitment activity. Read on to review:
- Our predictions about the Federal election timing and its impact on the Canberra jobs market.
- How strong does the Canberra job market look in 2018.
- What skills are in high demand?
Nationally the jobs market for 2018 looks very strong in Australia. Unemployment levels are expected to continue to drop and fast growth in several markets including the mining sector is a very positive sign. Key highlights include:
- AUSTRALIA’S JOBS BOOM HAS EXTENDED TO ITS 16TH CONSECUTIVE MONTH OF GROWTH, the longest unbroken period of growth recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (Business Insider, Feb 15, 2018). Buoyed by a positive return to form in the mining sector, Western Australia’s high unemployment rate is dropping rapidly. (ABC, Jan 18 2018). Mining jobs are also the fastest growing area of advertised jobs on Seek at 54% higher at the end of 2017 than the previous year. (SEEK, Feb 14 2018)
- This advertised job growth rate is expected to slow however during 2018 from 3.3% to 2.0% as it would be unusual to continue at the same rate of increase. (Business Insider, Jan 18 2018).
- Unemployment has been steady towards the end of 2017 at 5.5%, but 400,000 new jobs were created in the 12 months before Jan 2017 including a whopping 35,000 new jobs in December 2017. Whilst there is a shortage of part-time work in the Canberra region, part time employment is growing nationally at a faster rate than full time work. (Business Insider, Jan 18 2018).
- As you are no doubt hearing in the press, wage growth is stuck at an all-time low. While there is still spare capacity in the labour market, 2018 is not predicted to be the year wage growth improves. (Business Insider, Jan 18 2018).
- In fact, wage growth is not predicted by the Reserve Bank of Australia to improve until unemployment drops below 5% in 2020 (news.com.au, Feb 19, 2018) Canberra is somewhat insulated from this trend however, with wage growth in the public sector set by annual agreements which generally increase year on year.
- The latest SEEK data has revealed 14.7% more new job ads on SEEK, as of January 2018, compared to 12 months ago. The strongest sectors overall are Mining, Resources & Energy (54%), Trades & Services (31%), Engineering (25%), Science & Technology (22%) and Government & Defence (21%). (SEEK, Feb 14 2018)
- The Department of Jobs and Small Business’ Monthly Leading Indicator of Employment (the Indicator) has risen for the sixth consecutive month in February 2018. (DJSB Feb 14 2018)
The Sensis business confidence Index, drawn from over 1000 surveyed Small-Medium sized businesses, indicates the ACT economy is healthier than at any other time since 2010 and is expected to remain strong in 2018. Business confidence rose 11 points, 61% of surveyed businesses reported feeling positive in their prospects (The Canberra Times, Jan 19 2018). All key indicator balances were positive, rising for sales, capital expenditure, employment, prices, wages and profitability (Sensis Business Index Dec 2017, Feb 6 2018)
The ACT Government confirm the Territory economy and budget continue to strengthen. Highlights from the 2017-18 Budget review yield the following:
- 10,000 additional jobs in our city in 2017.
- Lowest unemployment rate in Australia at 4.3% (DJSB, Feb 19 2018).
- Fastest economic growth of all states and territories.
- Budget deficit halved this year to $41m. Balanced budget ahead in 2018.
(ACT Budget Review, ACT Government)
Following a cooling off period of new jobs posted from the end of 2017, advertising on SEEK in the ACT is now up 10.6% on the same time last year. THE BIGGEST GROWTH AREAS IN THE LAST YEAR HAVE BEEN (NO SURPRISES) IN THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR, WITH JOB ADVERTISING UP 41%. The Construction sector continues to provide significant impetus to the Canberra employment market.
Jobs advertised in Consulting and Strategy has dropped significantly (-30%) which in our view is less the result of a drop in demand, and more the result of the lack of effectiveness of SEEK advertising in the specialist, candidate short markets of Canberra.
HorizonOne observations on the ACT market
- JOBS RECEIVED AT HORIZONONE IN 2017 WERE UP 28% ON OUR BUSIEST CALENDAR YEAR to date (2016). Jobs numbers received so far in 2018 are also already up 10% on last year
- Applications received by HorizonOne in January 2018 are up 60% compared with the same period last year. It is likely we will see stronger candidate mobility in 2018 as job market confidence increases.
DID YOU KNOW Australia’s most commonly used search term on SEEK (by a long way) is “part-time”?
Of the 4800 jobs currently advertised in Canberra, only 200 are part-time.
If you consider a part-time employee for your job vacancy, you will dramatically increase your chance of finding a talented employee, particularly in tough, specialist markets.
We predict more of a steady, consistent growth year rather than the fast growth year of 2017, with potentially slowing of market growth by the end of 2018.
Election time prediction
Whilst shenanigans up on ‘the hill’ seem to get wackier and wackier, the Federal election is looming on the horizon and is due somewhere between 4 August 2018 and 18 May 2019. Depending on the year, a Federal election can have a major impact on the Canberra jobs market so it is highly relevant to discuss here.
‘Barnaby-gate’ makes things more unpredictable, but after speaking with our Senior Executive networks, the most likely time for the election barring a double dissolution will either be:
April 2019 (our #1 pick!)
Whilst promising economic indicators and a positive job market could lead to a surge in support for the incumbent Liberals to return to power, Newspoll and RoyMorgan polls predict a Labor swing and potential win. With numbers like this and continued challenges for the Liberal/Nationals leaders, an election this year looks unlikely.
Should the Liberals get back in, we imagine we will see much of the same with strict ‘ASL caps’ keeping Government headcounts low, and continuing growth in Canberra’s commercial sector. Liberal use of contractors and consulting firms to support the Government’s agenda will continue. Should Labor win, whilst they will likely continue with a 10% ‘contingent workforce’, Government ranks will expand and a preference for the use of non-ongoing over hourly rate contractors will emerge. The Liberals are unlikely to bow to Union pressure to cut spending on consultants.
If the election comes in April/May 2019, we will likely only see a 4 week market slow down if the Liberals get back in. If Labor win, the ensuing reorganisation, Machinery of Government changes and disruption could leach a market slowdown leaking well into the 2020 new financial year.
Areas of immediate Talent shortage in the ACT region
Sustained recruitment activity across most sectors in our region for the last three years means talent shortages are trending in critical markets such as Technology, Accounting and Finance, and specialist Government roles.
Specifically, skills currently in high demand are:
|Executive Assistants and Executive Officers – A perennial candidate short market, things have reached extreme shortage levels particularly for security cleared Government EA’s|
|Procurement specialists – all levels, private and public sectors, outsourcing trends mean this shortage is ongoing|
|CPA/CA qualified accountants (mid-level) around the $85 – $115K + Super mark. In both the Commercial and Government markets|
|Change Managers (organisational and technology) and Change Communications specialists|
|Mid-level or Junior Project Managers ($110 – $130K + Super)|
|Business Analysts and Senior Business Analysts|
|APS5-EL1 for L&D. Instructional Design, Strategic L&D development|
We predict a steady and positive employment market in Canberra for 2018, with some instability creeping up on us in 2019.