High hopes from National Summit but recruitment difficulties in CQ continue
- Job vacancies out-strip workforce supply
- Current demand for regional workers far exceeds mining boom of ten years ago
- Jobs and Skills Summit generates positive vibes for successful outcomes
Queensland records lowest ever unemployment rate
The Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force data shows that Queensland unemployment rate fell to 3.2 per cent in August. This was a fall of 0.5 per cent from July and an extra 1,400 jobs were created in August. In Central Queensland the unemployment rate is 3.4 per cent. Our employment rate is 77.9 per cent alongside a high participation rate of 67.9 per cent, demonstrating that our regional workforce is engaged and keen to work.
We are continuing to see recruitment difficulties in the region, with demand far out-weighing supply. The National Skills Commission report that the recruitment difficulty rate in August was 74 per cent, up 22 percentage points on August 2021.
Data from the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) reported that job vacancies in Central Queensland jumped up 37 per cent in July 2022 compared to July 2021.
So, while we may have an engaged workforce, and growing participation rate, the number of job vacancies is growing much faster than available workers.
Interestingly, RAI data also shows that the current demand for workers exceeds that associated with mining boom a decade ago. The peak of 59,100 regional job vacancies in 2011 was largely driven by construction and mining, and vacancies were mostly centered across the mining states. However, today’s boom, peaking at 86,900 regional job vacancies in July 2022, is widespread across the county, with the strongest demand being for professionals and skilled workers.
The roles in highest demand in Central Queensland are by far automotive and engineering trade workers, followed by medical practitioners and nurses (source Internet Vacancy Index). This is supported by our experience at Jobs In Central Queensland, with 42 per cent of our job vacancies dedicated to engineering and trades.
For Central Queensland this means that we have to compete nationally to attract workers to our region. We now find ourselves in the position of not only recruiting to fill job vacancies, but also marketing the region and lifestyle in order to entice candidates our way. Although money is the most important component of most candidates’ criteria, they also have high expectations around live-ability and fulfillment. As such, the team at Jobs In Central Queensland, are adapting our approach, to meet current labour market conditions and candidate aspirations, to the extent that we find ourselves becoming ambassadors for the region.
Jobs and Skills Summit
The federal government’s jobs and skill summit at the start of September was widely well-received and there is positivity about a collaborative approach to working on the challenges and opportunities in the labour market. In their published summit outcomes, the government’s key objectives of full employment and growing productivity, focuses on women’s participation and equality alongside reducing barriers to employment. For regional Australia, the summit suggested that education and skilled migration are key to addressing our labour shortages.
This is line with the Queensland Workforce Strategy 2022-2032, which states that Queensland will need an extra 280,000 workers in the four years 2024-2025. The strategy vision of ‘A strong and diverse workforce ready to seize today’s jobs and adapt to future opportunities’ will have three action plans delivered by a collaboration of industry, business, communities and government.
Education, migration and diversity are all key aspects in addressing the current skills shortage. Training our local high school graduates and upskilling existing workers in our regional jobs of the future will certainly plug some gaps. In particular, I feel strongly that we need to identify barriers to employment and implement real solutions to overcome them. In this regard, migration and diversity sit very closely together. Where we are able to fill positions with migrant workers, they very often bring with them to our community, their immediate family. Of course, they are often professional or skilled workers in their own right but often face barriers to joining our workforce due to our own lack of infrastructure to support them. Once we can resolve our issues around housing, childcare and healthcare, our participation rates will increase as those otherwise stay at home Mums and Dads have the support structure in place to allow them to enter the workforce.
For more information and insights about the local CQ job market and opportunities Register.