What’s happening in the job market is a hot topic of conversation right now and one that I am regularly asked by businesses as well as job seekers. With the rise in interest rates, cost of living skyrocketing and the continued challenge of sourcing talent, it seems everyone wants to know what’s happening in the world of work.
We have certainly seen a slow down in recruitment activity, meaning businesses are being much more considered with their hiring. When a vacancy becomes available due to a team member moving on, rather than jumping straight in to filling the position, consideration is being given to do we need to re-hire, can the tasks be re-allocated, is it a business critical function/role? Previously, when business confidence was stronger, there was no hesitation to re-hire. Hiring in to newly created roles in businesses has also slowed and a common theme seems to be to put these roles on hold until the new year. That is in part due to timing, with Christmas just around the corner, however I think it is also businesses wanting to see how 2024 kicks off.
While hiring activity has slowed, the war for talent hasn’t got any easier in the majority of sectors. We are seeing an increase in applications in roles such as retail, customer service and admin however the calibre of talent still remains a challenge. For highly skilled roles, the market is still very tight and many jobs remain hard to fill in terms of businesses finding the right skills and level of expertise that they want for the role.
Ballarat’s workforce participation rate sits well below the Australia and Victoria rate and the biggest gap we are seeing here is job seekers wanting to enter the workforce on a part time basis while businesses are wanting to engage people in full time roles. Where Ballarat businesses can structure a role to be part time, even school hours, we are finding these roles are generating a lot more interest amongst job seekers. Flexibility, work-life balance and lifestyle priorities remain a high priority for many job seekers and if businesses can balance that want then it allows them to tap in to a whole other pool of talent, being parents and the mature aged workforce who are in their transition to retirement. Some of this cohort left the workforce during covid and are now keen to return for the right hours and flexibility.
The accommodation and food services sector has re-entered the top 5 largest employing industries for the August 2023 quarter with the sector having re-built over the last 12 months due to the impact COVID had on the industry. The challenge in this sector now appears to be how businesses juggle their workforce, offering employees job security when the business needs flexibility in their workforce to cope with consumers changing and reducing their spending due to the rising cost of living.
Internet vacancies decreased for Ballarat across September which is consistent with businesses tightening their belts due to the economic climate however I do wonder if this drop in internet vacancies is also a reflection of businesses moving away from advertising vacancies on traditional online jobs boards because of their lack of effectiveness throughout 2023. Headhunting and social media have still been our most successful methods of sourcing candidates for skilled roles over recent months. While the volume of applications are increasing for lower level roles from online job boards, the calibre of applications remains hit and miss. One of the biggest complaints I am hearing from businesses using online job boards to recruit from is the frustration of trying to contact applicants to progress their application to the next stage of the recruitment process, typically to an interview, and not being able to get in contact with the applicant, no shows for interview and general ghosting.
So, what will 2024 look like for the job market? While business confidence is wanning, 2024 is predicted to still be a challenge for businesses in sourcing and attracting talent. Skills shortages in many sectors aren’t predicted to improve. Hence, the focus for many businesses will remain on growing their own talent; learning and development programs to allow less experienced / qualified people to be employed in to roles and then developed internally. Additionally, growing and developing existing employees to create opportunities for career growth and promotion and manage workforce and succession planning requirements will be key.
Stay tuned for my blog in early February where I’ll share more info on my thoughts and predictions for 2024.