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Continued uptick for Australia’s job market expected in new year

Key Survey findings: (Source: Michael Page Employment Index report, Q1)

  • 66% of employers predict business conditions will remain stable or improve in early 2012, up from 56% in the previous quarter.
  • 58% of companies increasing headcount will focus on revenue-generating roles, up from 41% in Q4, 2011.
  • Staff retention remains a key consideration for employers.

14 Dec 2011: Australia’s employment market is expected to improve marginally in the first quarter of 2012 as employers look at opportunities for business growth, according to findings in the latest Michael Page Employment Index.

Of the companies surveyed, 55% predict that business conditions will remain stable over the first few months of 2012, up from 46% in the previous quarter findings, while a further 11% expect conditions will improve.

Based on this positive market sentiment, 63% of companies surveyed are likely to keep staff numbers stable while a further 28% plan to grow headcount, an increase on the 23% of surveyed companies in Quarter 4, 2011 results.

“Overall, the report reveals that employers have an optimistic outlook for domestic business conditions and this is being reflected in their hiring intentions heading into the new year,” says Mr. Phillip Guest, Regional Managing Director of Michael Page International.

“Over the past few years, and particularly due to the difficulty in growing revenues, companies have focused on fixing their balance sheets and reducing costs. Whilst these projects are by and large complete there continues to be a focus on costs, evident by 30% of companies surveyed planning to focus hiring activity on procurement roles in an attempt to further drive business costs down,” Mr. Guest adds.

“The focus is shifting towards driving revenue-growth, with most companies (58%) now focusing on revenue-generating roles in the areas of sales and business development, up from 41% in the previous quarter’s results.” says Mr. Guest.

As improving market confidence provides further employment opportunities and puts pressure on salaries, 29% of surveyed employers predict staff turnover will rise in Q1 2012, up from 17% in Quarter 4, 2011. Against this backdrop, staff retention remains a key consideration for employers looking to keep their best people, with 38% of surveyed employers putting a major focus on staff retention strategies, slightly higher than the 32% recorded in last quarter’s results. The key retention strategy for the bulk of surveyed employers (43%) is training and development.

“Whilst the overall Australian employment market is improving, by state Western Australia and Queensland continue to be the standout performers, predominantly due to the growth in the Mining and Resources sector,” says Mr. Guest.