Surging vacancies and acute skills shortages
- Central Queensland labour market extremely tight at all levels
- COVID-19 still significantly impacting absenteeism
- Economy getting stronger but still challenges ahead for employers
Unemployment rate reducing and number of vacancies ascending
The national unemployment rate has fallen to a 47 year low of 3.9% and the volume of job ads is soaring across the board. The latest published unemployment rate for Central Queensland is 5.4% (March quarter) but the regional data is only released quarterly and the CQ rate is expected to be down again when the next data is released after the end of June.
Employers are continually reporting that they are struggling to fulfil unskilled and semi-skilled positions in their businesses and that the wage expectations from these workers are rapidly increasing, which is in turn having an impact on prices.
Online job ads are at an all time high and we are experiencing an increasing volume of job ads across almost all sectors on the Jobs In Central Queensland website.
According to the Australian Government’s Internet Vacancy Index Job advertisement levels are currently at their highest level since the series began in January 2006. Advertisements have rebounded strongly since hitting record lows in May 2020 with the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On a State basis, Queensland saw 63,100 jobs advertised last month which is 10.1% increase on the previous month, 42.6% up on the previous year and a 103.4% pre-COVID change.
Pandemic still having significant impact on absenteeism
Whilst the reporting of COVID-19 has notably dwindled from the daily news reports, the pandemic is still having a significant impact on the workforce and compounding the difficulty for employers to meet workforce requirements.
Whilst Central Queensland was shielded from the worst impacts of the pandemic over the last couple of years, there are now high levels of cases (15,203 at the time of writing), inevitably resulting in workers staying at home and having to care for impacted family members.
Is full employment a realistic outlook?
With a new Prime Minister who was stumped when recently asked for the unemployment rate, what will the future hold as we currently have a potential situation of full employment?
A recently published report by Grattan Institute explains that Australia should “shoot for full employment after the COVID crisis”. They explain that sustained low unemployment and under-employment are among the best ways to improve the lives of Australia’s most vulnerable workers. Australia’s economy was sluggish in the years before the COVID recession: inflation had been below its target for more than half a decade, unemployment was persistently higher than it could have been, and many Australians had not had a decent pay rise in years.
Australia’s recovery has been a success story but now we are in a situation that many people have never experience before, very high vacancy levels and low available supply of workers.
No matter what your political persuasion, the new government needs to make the most of this opportunity, inflation needs to be brought under control and we need to maintain as low an unemployment rate as possible.
Hiring conditions not expected to improve soon
All of the indicators suggest that the tightening of the employment market will escalate, meaning it will continue to be very challenging for CQ businesses to fill their vacant positions.
GDP is expected to increase over the next two years, with unemployment expected to continue to fall and labour costs increasing. Labour costs will impact purchase costs which then impact final product prices, driving inflation. The Reserve Bank also increased interest rates in early May to 0.35% which is expected to be the first in a series of interest rate rises.
The economic recovery is very welcome but it does not make things easy for business as they are faced with a shrinking pool of talent.
Where are employers achieving some recruitment wins?
During the last month, the vacancies with the highest views and applications were in the manufacturing, construction and trades & services sectors.
Roles receiving the lowest ad responses over the last month included Manager positions, Accountants, Accounts Administration roles and Chefs/Cooks. This is indicative of the high level of employment in these fields and general lack of active candidates in the market for these positions currently.
Some of the most popular job searches on the Jobs In CQ site included Engineers, Boilermakers, Cleaners and Sales roles.
For more information and insights about the local CQ job market and opportunities Register.