The Australian labour market is experiencing unprecedented growth, with job vacancies doubling since the start of the COVID pandemic. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the country currently has more than 480,000 available jobs. That’s a 111% increase in vacancies since February 2020.
However, filling these jobs is the real challenge. Australia is also in the midst of an employment boom. In June, the unemployment rate reached 3.5% – the lowest it has been in 48 years. If this continues, the country could reach full employment.
With nearly every working-age Australian already having a job, what does this mean for companies still looking to recruit? Which sectors are the ones most badly in need of talent?
COVID made what was already a difficult recruitment process a lot tougher. Businesses had to downsize their workforce to survive, and they’re now having a hard time making up for those lost workers.
There are three main sectors that have the largest job vacancies to date:
Healthcare & social assistance (68,900)
Accommodation & food services (51,900)
Professional scientific & technical services (42,900)
Some sectors also experienced a drastic increase in job vacancies since the start of the pandemic. Arts & recreation, for example, had the biggest jump in vacancies, followed by accommodation & food services, and real estate.
Meanwhile, the construction sector had a significant jump in both the number of vacancies (39,900) and rate of increase (140% compared to pre-pandemic levels).
The vacancy rate can be interpreted as vacancies expressed as a proportion of total jobs. In this sense, four sectors can be identified as the ones in most need of workers, according to the Centre for Future Work. These are:
Administration & support (8.9%)
Wholesale trade (5.2%)
Real estate (4.3%)
Struggling to keep up with demand
Despite the threat of coronavirus infections still looming, companies are eager to bounce back. The Federal Government has worked to ensure businesses stay afloat and recover from the crisis by pumping stimulus into the economy. Banks also offered near-zero interest rates, which allowed employers to keep their workers at full employment status.
With the ebb in the economic impact of the pandemic, businesses have also started calling back their workers. This “very strong” demand for labour is driving an increased vacancy rate “across all
occupations and industries,” according to University of Melbourne Professor Jeff Borland, who was quoted by The Guardian. “We’re creating new jobs at such a rate; it’s taking time to hire and for the labour supply to catch up.”