Monday, February 1, 2010

How bad to skills shortages have to get?

Would you want this man driving your helicopter? Because, it might happen if some current trends are to be believed.

According to the newspapers in January, you’d be forgiven for assuming that, for the recruitment advertising industry the worst was over.

On the 17th, the SMH reported that job advertisements rose in November and December, with Robert Olivier, director of the Olivier Group commenting:

This rise rounds off a remarkable recovery over the last six months in the Australian jobs market.

Then you’ve got today’s news, seemingly offering the opposite view. Job ads, according to the ANZ monthly report, have slumped a massive 8.1%.

But the skills shortages (and the corresponding socio-economic trends that put them there) haven't really gone away. So is the recovery over before it even began? Certainly not.

ANZ acting chief economist Warren Hogan reckons there’s fragility, yet expects solid growth moving forward. And Business Day reports that newspaper job ad numbers are only 3.4% lower than they were in January 2009.

Net figures also demonstrate that some 140,000 new jobs were created in the last four months of 2009. Seeing as unemployment has actually decreased in this period, this statistic means that new jobs have actually surpassed population growth.

However, these two variables (unemployment and population growth) are likely, in my opinion, to remain pretty level as the ‘under’ employed take on more hours (bear in mind that 30% of the new jobs above are part-time).

So there's some conservatively optimistic news out there. And it gets better for wannabe helicopter pilots.

Because, coupled with these points, is the (not-so-surprising) news that the labour market is at its tightest for the past six months – with sure signs of a move back toward the skills shortages in areas like IT, engineering, health, and accountancy. The Clarius Skills Index (from December) shows clear evidence of oversupply moving down from 45,000 to 17,000 people.

So the fella in the helicopter might have a job waiting for him after all.

All in all, 2010 is sure to spell slow progress, but I expect the market to have lifted substantially around Easter and beyond.

*** Stop press ***

New positive news from Shortlist:

Average daily browsers on SEEK were up 34% compared with December's figure, at 278,363. Total unique browsers for the month rose 26% to 3.872 million.

At CareerOne, average daily browsers surged by 42% month-on-month to 89,503, while total unique browsers for January grew 36% to 1.748 million.

MyCareer saw daily browsers increase by 39% to 75,338, and total unique browsers rose 33% to 1.448 million.


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