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Australia’s employment market a tale of two halves

Key survey findings: (Source: Michael Page Employment Index report, Q2 2012)

  • 64% of employers predict business conditions will remain stable or improve in coming months.
  • 61% of companies expect headcount levels to remain stable in Q2.
  • 41% of employers believe the impact from weak economic conditions offshore on the domestic economy will be low, while 40% believe impact will be moderate to high.

3 April 2012: The leveling out of Australia’s employment market will continue into the second quarter of the year, with findings from the latest Michael Page Employment Index pointing to an overall stable outlook.

Consistent with previous quarter survey results, the majority of employers surveyed predict business conditions will remain stable or improve (64%). With business conditions expected to stablise there is a flow on in sentiment to the local recruitment market, and the bulk of surveyed employers (61%) predict headcount levels will remain the same during the second quarter, with replacement hires only.

However, when asked about the impact that weak economic conditions in the US and Europe are having on the local economy, survey responses were separated down the middle. There was an even split between companies thinking there will be a high or moderate impact (40%) and those that believe impact will be low (41%).

“The Q2 Employment Index survey findings confirm what we have been seeing in Australia – that some businesses and sectors are being impacted by global economic conditions and others are not. There have been different experiences and there are different views,” says Mr. Phillip Guest, Regional Managing Director of Michael Page International.

“For example Financial Services, a truly global business, has been impacted by economic conditions abroad, while Mining & Resources has been much less so,” he adds.

While the majority of companies will be leaving headcount steady over the coming months, for the 22% of companies indicating they intend to increase staff the focus will once again be on front-line, revenue-generating business areas, with 54% of hiring activity directed towards sales and business development roles.

“This continued focus on revenue-generating roles indicates that some businesses continue to see opportunities for growth in the current market. This is an encouraging sign,” adds Mr. Guest.

The stable market outlook is also keeping talent management at the forefront of employers’ minds, and in particular the retention of their key staff. Some 80% of surveyed companies will have a major or moderate focus on staff retention during the second quarter, a similar level to the first quarter of the year.