Jobs In CQ’s new monthly job market review gives businesses, recruiters and the Central Queensland community, insights into what happened in the local CQ employment market last month – including sector labour market performance and talent insights.
January 2022 Overview
- Vacancies increase across all sectors, although not by as much as anticipated – potentially stalled somewhat and impacted by the extension of school summer holidays
- The uplift of vacancies in Engineering and Construction was most significant month-on-month, but Healthcare and Social Assistance vacancies also remain very strong and persistent
- Skills shortages are real across all sectors
- Omicron triggers significant workforce shortages, particularly impacting Healthcare and Social Assistance, Hospitality and Tourism, Retail, Transport and Logistics
Vacancies are up!
Particularly in Engineering, Construction, Healthcare and Social Assistance.
There has been a positive increase in vacancy numbers in the CQ employment market, compared to December, which demonstrates that businesses are poised for growth. The numbers have increased steadily across all sectors, with Engineering, Construction, Healthcare and Social Assistance the most noticeable.
A question arising is whether these higher vacancy numbers will translate to higher wages? This varies from sector to sector and increases are most prevalent where there is high workforce mobility. This includes construction and supply chain distribution with wages generally on the increase in these sectors. This is, in part, due to the inability for employers to offer other benefits such as flexibility and work-from-home options, which are used in some of the other “skills-in-demand” sectors to make positions more attractive.
Healthcare and Social Assistance is the region’s largest industry of employment with an average of at least 700 advertised vacancies in the CQ region throughout the month and lots of these vacancies reportedly not being filled. It is yet to be seen if this situation will translate into higher wages and better working conditions.
Salaries and wages are a hot topic!
As the cost of living is on the rise and most sectors are facing significant skills shortages, salaries and wages are a hot topic!
With current CPI levels standing at 2.6% (excluding volatile items), upwards inflationary pressure is anticipated over the coming months and economists expect this will continue, until it reaches around the mid 3% level and stabilises.
National unemployment is low at 4.2% and expected to fall below 4% during the same period. The latest published figures for the Central Queensland region show unemployment of 5% which is a 19% drop from the rate of 6.2% a year ago (still 16% higher than the national average). Youth Unemployment most noticeably has plummeted by 43% (to 6% down from 10.5%), which is largely reflective of the number of displaced workers in this category at the height of the pandemic.
In general, compared to December we are seeing minimal wage/salary rises except between 0.5% and 1% rises in some professional and management positions, most noticeably within Construction and Healthcare.
Higher mobility rates should typically translate to higher wages & conditions but not necessarily, because pay negotiations take time to work through, before they can be implemented if successful. Also working-from-home arrangements and flexible working are increasingly being offered as a substitute for higher wages in many sectors, where practical.
What else impedes wages growth?
At the moment, where vacancies are not critically urgent, some employers are waiting to evaluate the impact of re-opening the State and National borders in the hope of possibly better job matches and skills matches with a wider pool of labour and broader available skillset.
There has been a noticeable swing towards regional living, which has been reflected in property prices and housing demand across the region. This has translated into positions being filled from inter-state.
Real Estate agents and property valuers are reporting unprecedented demand and transaction volumes in numerous suburbs across the CQ region. This in turn will impact the cost of living, with increasing property prices and rents. This places further pressure on wages and salaries, in order for the community to maintain a living wage and current living standards.
It will be interesting to witness what happens over the next few months in relation to international immigrants entering Australia and the appeal of regions such as Central Queensland, versus the Metro cities. With Australia’s earlier than expected announcement to open the international borders on 21st February for double vaccinated travellers, this opportunity is now not too far away.
We anticipate there will be a continual upward trend on wages and salaries due to an environment of increasing inflation and continued skills shortages.
To reduce the increased cost pressure on businesses of all sizes, we are increasingly seeing the development of innovative employee value propositions, retention strategies and loyalty programmes.
Is there a high rate of job switching?
Across the region, employers are taking a range of pro-active measures to attract and retain workers.
In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic the CQ region experienced a relatively low level of job switching, aided by Job Keeper and a significant air of caution in the candidate market.
Conversely we are now witnessing a “catch-up” situation as the community is generally feeling more certainty about the financial outlook and the virus becoming under control. Candidates are becoming more adventurous, and this is resulting in more of a natural fluidity in the labour market.
This is expected to increase now that the extended school holidays have come to an end and a larger portion of the community return to a work and career focus.
And what about Tourism?
We have seen a slight increase in vacancies within Hospitality and Tourism as well, with Job Ads in this sector ranging between 4-5% of overall vacancies on the JobsInCQ.net.au site throughout January. This is also reflective of the ratio on other major job advertising platforms.
Notably in Rockhampton there was a higher proportion of job ads within Hospitality & Tourism versus job ads in other sectors, when compared to the other main centres of Gladstone and Mackay.
The easing of state border restrictions is now having a long-awaited positive effect on hospitality and tourism businesses and the re-opening of international borders later this month is expected to fuel that further and create more demand in this sector. However much more needs to be done to support and further assist the rehabilitation of many CQ businesses in this sector.
Central Queensland employers have reported challenges in maintaining business-as-usual, due to additional COVID-19 compliance rules implemented in December and higher than normal staff shortages due to staff sickness and home isolation.
This has been a factor across all sectors but particularly prevalent in hospitality and tourism, retail, transport and logistics, healthcare and social assistance sectors.
Whilst we have been living through continued challenging times and Central Queensland has now been exposed to COVID-19, having previously been protected with border restrictions, the good news is that Omicron does appear less severe than anticipated.
I believe there is much cause for optimism about the outlook for 2022 in the economy and life in Central Queensland! There are significant projects underway and on the horizon with an array of opportunities available for businesses and people, looking to further enhance their career and lifestyle.
Have a great February!
Director and Business Talent Scout
Jobs In Central Queensland™
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