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Australian Recruitment Picture Brightening

January 5 2010 - People may believe that the global financial crisis (GFC) has made job-hunting more difficult but a recent survey from Mercer suggests that the recruitment picture is better than it seems.

The Mercer Workplace 2012 survey of 198 Australians between the ages of 20 and 34 - conducted in October 2009 - found that while 86% of respondents thought that the GFC would make it harder to find work, their actual experiences suggested otherwise.

In fact, on the basis of their own experience, or that of their family and friends, more than a half (53%) had found it 'easier' or 'about the same' to find a job, compared with a year ago.

Ken Gilbert, head of Human Capital at Mercer, said:

"The GFC only brought limited relief to the skills shortage and as the economy recovers the pressures on the labour force are soon going to increase.

"The perception versus reality mismatch amongst job seekers reinforces a skills shortage will continue to put pressure on the labour market for employers.

"Employers need to get their ducks in a row when it comes to planning their workforce and talent pipeline for the next year and beyond. They need to have a sound understanding of what skills they need and whether they can develop these from within or need to buy in external talent. If organisations do need to buy, the pressing question now is how long can they afford to wait?" he said.

The survey showed that, in terms of finding jobs, the group hardest hit by the global financial crisis was aged between 20 and 24. 52% of respondents in this group said it was harder to find work than it was 12 months ago. This was almost 10% more than respondents aged 25-29 and 16% more than those aged 30-34.

Ken Gilbert said that this mirrors the way Australian businesses have responded to the GFC.:

"Many Australian companies learned lessons from previous downturns and are conscious of the crippling effect of the war for talent. As a result we’ve seen that companies have held onto their skilled workers, rather than making blanket workforce cuts.

"One way businesses have contained employment costs is to limit hiring to replace those who have left, and Mercer’s research shows the segment with the lowest level replacement hiring within Australia is, by a significant margin, graduates - explaining why younger people are most likely to find it more difficult to find work at the moment."

Other significant findings

  • Compared with 12 months ago, 63.1% of blue collar workers were finding it 'easier' or 'about the same' to find work while only 47% of white collar workers felt the same.
  • More than a half (51.1%) of respondents in New South Wales were finding it harder to find work.
  • 18.4% of women didn't believe that the GFC had made it harder to find work.- compared with 4.7% of men.
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