The final quarter of 2009 is set to be the strongest one of the year for employment in Australia, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.
Released yesterday, the survey of 2333 employers indicates hiring intentions for the next three months have improved, with the seasonally adjusted net employment outlook at seven per cent, up from two per cent in the last quarter.
This is due to an increase in the proportion of employers planning to increase hiring (18 per cent, up from 14 per cent in Q3) and a fall in the number planning to decrease hiring (nine per cent, compared to 14 per cent in Q3). However, hiring intentions remain weaker than a year ago, when the net employment outlook was 16 per cent.
“Two successive quarters of improving employer forecasts are an encouraging sign that the employment market has turned the corner: the employment forecast for Australia has climbed from minus one per cent in the second quarter to a level of cautious optimism. It’s also a testament to the resilience of the Australian labour market that we have avoided recording a negative outlook this quarter; unfortunately, many other countries in the Manpower network have not been so fortunate,” said Crawley.
Certain industries had a particularly bright outlook, with 23 per cent of mining and construction employers planning to increase hiring (up from 15 per cent in Q3) and 20 per cent of transportation and utilities employers (up from 13 per cent).
No industry sector employers reported a negative net employment outlook. Employers in the manufacturing, the mining and construction and the wholesale and retail trade industry sectors all project a positive hiring pace in the forthcoming quarter.
“One of the defining characteristics of this downturn has been the way in which different industry sectors have felt the pain,” said Crawley.
“For example, the manufacturing sector suffered two consecutive quarters of negative outlooks, although it has now returned to positive territory. Conversely, the services sector has weathered the storm well, never straying into negative territory, with employers reporting the most optimistic hiring intentions among all of the sectors surveyed for the fourth quarter.
“The message here for jobseekers is that it’s vital to stay flexible, retrain where possible and tap into networks for new opportunities. The economy hasn’t contracted evenly, nor will it grow again in a uniform way, so people need to be adaptable and go where the demand is,” he said.
While the outlook is yet to reach the heights seen during the boom, when it peaked at 29 per cent (in Q2, 2007 and 2008), Crawley believes that the war for talent is gathering pace again.
“We have already seen in our research, and in talking to employers, that skills shortages still exist in some areas of the Australian employment market, including engineers, sales professionals and trades.
“And while the downturn has provided a welcome respite for many organisations who had struggled to find the talent they need, it certainly won’t last forever. Smart companies will be working hard, right now, to both attract and retain top performers who will see them through the downturn and beyond,” said Crawley.