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Staffing Trends: Festive cheer in short supply but jobs growth predicted from mid 2013 [Blog]

TMSconsulting_-_Staffing_Trends_ArticleIn recent months there has been extensive coverage in the press predicting a slowdown in the labour market in Australia, with a range of issues from cuts in government spending, the perceived end of the mining boom and the fragile international economy all being given as reasons for this. Indeed, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the unemployment rate nationally has risen from a low of 5.1% in April to 5.4% in the latest figures for in October. In TMS’s home state of Queensland, the rise has been even more significant, with the ABC reporting a rise to 6.3% in the state unemployment rate, compared with just 5.5% in May this year. There is little doubt that a combination of a slowdown in mining activity due to lower commodity prices, along with state government cutbacks, have contributed to Queensland being at the forefront of the labour market slowdown in recent months, and TMS sees no sign of this situation abating prior to Christmas.

However, a recent study by Economic and Market Development Advisors (EDMA) which was reported in the Business Spectator recently, suggest all is not doom and gloom. Their latest bi-annual reports states that “the overall outlook is quite encouraging”, with predictions that Western Australia will lead the way with 2.5% employment growth in 2013, followed by Queensland with 1.2%. Unsurprisingly the report also predicts mining employment to be the driver of this growth, surging 10.2% next year, with engineering still above trend at 3.6% in 2013. New South Wales and Victoria are projected to have job growth of 1.1% next year, slightly below the traditional resources states.

TMS’s anecdotal evidence from our clients would concur with these findings, with many of our resources clients (particularly in the LNG market) indicating positive hiring intentions for 2013, although a number are focusing on controlling costs of existing projects more closely than in recent years, which could temper wage inflation. In the government sector, the tone is a little more circumspect, although most departments acknowledge that hiring will have to increase to by mid 2013 if policy objectives are to be met and service levels maintained.

TMS is projecting that key job growth areas for the next 12 months are likely to be Health & Safety Managers and Advisors within the Resources sector, and Data Specialists within the technology sector, as companies look to secure the viability of their projects and analyse the spending patterns of their customers more closely. Overall, we foresee a short term continuation of the sluggish labour market conditions we are currently experiencing, with steady growth in hiring intentions nationally from mid 2013.

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