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Plenty of jobs, no candidates

If you want a change of job, now would be a good time to go for it.

Manpower’s Annual Talent Shortage Survey exposes the extent to which Australia’s finance firms are crying out for staff. It says 61% of Australian employers cannot find qualified staff to fill vacancies. And of the 10 most critical sectors, finance (at number 4) and engineering (at number 2) were the only professional sectors experiencing trouble: all the rest were trades jobs.

The shortage of finance employees isn’t wildly surprising given that
a) plenty of Australian bankers have sought pastures greener overseas, and b) the unemployment rate for the Australian finance sector, at 1.8%, is way below the national average of 4.5%.

Moreover, things seem to be getting worse rather than better. The survey also found that, out of the 27 countries examined, Australia and New Zealand had the most dramatic increases in skills shortages over the preceding 12 months with a 29% increase in difficulty filling positions compared with 2006. Manpower interviewed 2,846 Australian employers for the survey.

Stephen Hinch, Manpower chief marketing officer, says companies haven’t caught on yet that workers now have the whip hand. “Baby boomers are retiring, the workforce is shrinking, which means employers will have more trouble filling positions. It will be an employees’ market and they will be able to pick and choose who they work for. The old anxieties around job security are vanishing, especially for Gen X-ers who are restless and ready for change.”

Not that employers are reining in their aspirations. Manpower’s Employment Outlook Survey (March 2007) found that companies expected to lift employment by 31% this April-June quarter.

Comments (24)

  1. How many of these 2,846 Australian employers surveyed regularly hire graduates? Having recently completed a Masters degree in finance I expected a prompt placement. After a month of being unemployed and having to absorb the cost of living in Sydney, I’m now considering joining the exodus to Europe. Perhaps if employers were less myopic and spent some time training graduate employees for so-called entry-level roles rather than insisting they have six to 18 months of irrelevant experience there wouldn’t be a shortage.

  2. I don’t believe there is a real skill shortage. The so-called shortage is simply the output result of a number of ‘soft’ factors being used by the recruitment industry as a whole.
    So the shortage is not people, but more likely whether they are ‘regarded’ as suitable.
    The key question government SHOULD be asking is whether recruiters actually invest sufficient resources in both targeting and assessing all potential applicants – and not just the first six who ‘fit’.
    Accordingly, I would like to know how the so-called “29% increase in difficulty” in finding employees is measured? Is this by candidate application volume, by database size, frequency of job adverts or what?
    More likely is that it is based on some ‘intuitive’ reaction to all the media hype about the issue.
    So try asking candidates if they think there is a skill shortage. If this really were true, then not only would basic wage rates be rising (economics 101) but most people would be cherry picking from the plethora of available jobs.
    In fact it seems the reverse is true; most are applying at a frequency far higher than ever before – but without success.

  3. I am a qualified Accounting Clerk who has wide experience in a number of fields including Auditing, and International Banking. The number of jobs advertised is just overwhelming. Yet, over the last six months I have only been successful in obtaining a five weeks temp position. I sometimes wonder whether the resumes are truly well read and analysed before sending a negative reply. Promises are made that CVs are kept on files for future reference; experience shows otherwise with employment agencies. I truly look forward to having the estimation of lift in employment in the next quarter by 31%.

    Magdoline Nour Reply
  4. I think these surveys are flawed. Do Manpower mean ‘qualified’ staff as in those who have educational attainments or ‘experienced’ staff? It amazes me that McDonald’s show more initiative than some employers. Pay an employee minimum wage and spend an hour to train them up / hire a graduate who has no prior experience, initially pay them less and train them. How hard is it?

  5. Skills shortage is inevitable with the growing economy and ageing population which needs financial planners, etc. I just hope that migrant skilled workers will be given a chance to work in the financial sectors. There’s plenty of us ready to fill the void.

    Roberto III Bascuna Reply
  6. I heard similar stories for many years now. I couldn’t agree more with all of the above, except the person who wrote the article. Clearly a journalist without a clue about what the real story is.

    And as for the Manpower stats, I’ve seen something similar on the back of a Rice Bubbles packet. Sure, we do have an ageing population, but many of those people are unwilling to train anyone for fear of being outshone and pushed out early or left feeling inadequate.

    The heirarchical order is pathetic. The people saying that there is no-one, are the same people that need a swift quick up the rear end and out the door. They’re the same people that think they are the only one’s who can do their job.

    Fact is, 3 months grace for many people and what was a ‘hard position to fill’ just became filled with a qualified person. It’s a society that fosters mediocrity and stifles natural progression. It’s a small market for small people, and I’m not trying to belittle those people who truly attempt to develop the next generation, it’s just that the problem in Australia is with attitude, not demographics. Time to grow up Oz!!!

    head shaker (London) Reply
  7. I agree with London. If companies and their preferred recruiters spent less time pandering to the ‘corporate fit’ motto and more time concentrating on the individual’s experience education potential to add value and then provided real guidance, training and opportunities – they might find that some of their employees are actually dictating a negative culture which precipitates the Aussie firm mediocrity and thereby lower returns.

    Most people no matter how good they are at their job get too tired to take on the nonsense of fighting the die-hard employees and taking on the culture because these die-hards manipulate every situation they can to try and gain accolades for themselves at the expense of the firm’s business, reputation and in particular their peers(what?) Hence Enron Andersons NAB back office and the pillage/plunder disasters that we actually know of?

    HR forget your own egos and concentrate on job independence not back-pats ie find the best fit applicant for the actual job description and nurture. Team player is important in any facet of business and life but so is being talented and this is a problem in Australia which is why so many talented people go overseas for work!

    another head shaker (NSW) Reply
  8. Shortage….?? Where …?? Created by lack of understanding, initiative and risk taking from Australian companies and HR groups. Having just returned from a tour of Asia (3+ years), now I am in the Oz job market, thus far I have been told on numerous occasions:
    i/ that my skills and level of experience are to high for Australia and I should head to New York
    ii/ I am a threat to anyone more senior to myself in an organisation
    iii/ I do not have enough pieces of paper
    iv/ My knowldege could show up fellow staff
    The list could go on, last night a colleague suggested I write a book about my experiences, no thanks I’d prefer to trade, teach and mentor the next generation and add some value in Australia.((hmmm Perhaps in exacerbation I should hand in my Australian citizenship and go to New York and become a American citizen ))
    Agree with “head shaker.. Time to grow up OZ” Interestingly Australian talent does better overseas than in Australia, perhaps that is because “talent” has guts to create their own future? July one look out NY…!!!

    and another head shaker ….What a joke! Reply
  9. Can someone tell me where these skill shortages are? Twenty years plus experience, higher education and still looking for a reasonable offer.

  10. Unbelievable. Narrow-minded. Bordering on stupidity.

    These institutions simply do not focus on where the REAL value is. I absolutely, whole-heartedly agree with the previous 2 headshakers. I just hope I dont get a migraine shaking too much.

    You feel like shaking the potential employers because the simply do not GET IT. Why is it so much easier to deal with employers in the rest of the world, yet here they are all myopic, suspicious, overly concerned about bs political correctness and corporate hype???

    Yet another head shaker Reply
  11. Many experienced immigrants are waiting just to show their Knowledge and skill and want to make their career in the new market. But nobody to hire them. No job without the local experience and no local experience without the job.vicious circle of underemployment keeps revolving.

  12. A part of the fault is with the recruitment companies. I recently applied for a position to which I was more than qualified for only to be rejected within 24hours. I contacted the person involved with presenting the position and explained to them that as the advertisement was presented I was perfect for the job and that I wanted a fairly good reason as to why I was not being presented to the client or I was going to present myself to the client (it wasn’t hard to figure out who it was) and she would likely not receive any commission at all. It became very obvious from a brief conversation that the young lass that had been handed this task had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.

    Please we need more proessionalism in the recruitment industry and it needs to step away from many of the cheap sales tricks that seem to be the norm.

  13. I cannot agree with the comments above enough -and the thing that has to stand out is even those on the recruiting side recognise this problem -I am both aghast and find it hilarious (in a sarcastic manner).

    I had almost the exact experience as head shaker. Having spent a couple of years completing higher study in a finance discipline and then trading in London, all with the view to arriving back in Sydney with a CV that would be “snapped up” – so my friends told me – I was met with what can only be described as nothing short of “attitude” -comments ranging from “are you sure you wont be bored with the products here” “your masters makes you over qualified” “yes but you havent traded Australian markets” – the funny thing was that my CV cried out that I was able to “transfer my skills” as even in London I had traded a few asset classes ie had to adapt to new markets and the whole reason I decided initially to put London on my CV was to break into trading as I used to be in another profession in Sydney and was told I “wouldnt be able to switch professions in Sydney”.

    The narrow minded attitudes left me no choice – I am back in London ! I was warned but didnt believe it !!foolish market

    Driven from Sydney- land of the open minded?? Reply
  14. Re:Realistic Recruiter, HR & Recruitment
    follow on: and another head shaker ….What a joke!, Trading, Thu 10 May 07

    Outside the box, iconoclast, slighty eccentric lateral thinking gun trader hhhmmm worth my weight in gold… you bet!! and then some!!

    Current Weight 3858.089 Troy Ounces therefore my current worth is $2,399,731.36USD (spot Gold $662USD as I write), better keep eating those NY cut steaks. 1st July look out NY. What a pitty Australian firms and recruiters find it difficult to see the lustre beneath the surface! Australia a country where mediocrity is celebrated. Australia on the move to NY, London, Sing, Honkers………….!

    Great Idea – Worth my weight in Gold..! Reply
  15. My personal experience on fund management with these ‘gate keeper’ i.e. recruiters tell a similar story – it got worse at the employer level i.e the fund manager themselves who have yet to embrace globalisation despite operating in ‘world markets’.

    While FMs claim to have be able to see potential in their investee companies, most seem unable to do that when hiring people. As a result Aussie fund management teams are homogenous, non diversified and myopic – in the long run, its not positve for Australia. Australian fund managers: OPEN UP YOUR MINDS.

    Absolut narrow minded Reply
  16. The real market is completely different. Job agences just replacing an employed person to another job. But they are not helping at all to fresh graduates in accounting. Moreover, they do not evaluate overseas experience. The whole system benefits those who have a related job.

  17. I have 20 years of high level experience in the London financial markets, including at CEO level. On several occassions in my career I have missed home and wanted to return. I once responded to an ad made by a prominent Australian bank …their head of HR actually called me in London to thank me for making an application but to tell me that “unless I had made a success of my career in Australia i hadnt made a success of it all”. Im still in London …and if i ever head back it will be to paint stripes on the road …or something similar and more commensurate with my skills!

    antihoodooguru Reply
  18. antihoodooguru – that is one of the worst stories I have heard – I am appalled – the closed minded attitudes that are referred to are incredible! For a time, I thought my experience was a one off , maybe due to something I was portraying – a little digging and I dispelled those thoughts – but to hear the extent to it really is worrying – when I left school everybody talked of overseas experience – but that is big mistake

    Driven from Sydney Reply
  19. I am business graduate trying to find a graduate accounting position. I have not had any luck as of yet. Anyone have any advice ? I was considering giving up and becoming a teacher because the last job I went for I was in the top 4 of 100 applicants and got rejected. The university told me to do a masters in accounting, they tried to steal $34,000 from me. I don’t know who to believe anymore because I thought there was demand in for accountants but clearly there is demand for accounting jobs ! not accounting graduates.

    – confused, discontented and feeling betrayed.

  20. I cannot find a graduate accounting position as of yet. I am still looking. Clearly there are more people demanding positions than there are positions demanding people.

    Any advice ? am I doing something wrong do you think ? should I try to become a school teacher? is that more realistic because it seems the demand of people to be trained is what is highest.

  21. It is hard to find work in this day and age. However it is even more difficult to find Accounting work when you have little to no experience. It is important to find work that is related to your studies, as it helps you to remember details and keep track of new updates.

    I don’t know about the rest of you but in a short period of time you forget some of the things you have learned. Also it would be beneficial for Universities and Colleges to create work projects. In which a student is given a company to analyze using their skills as a Accountant. This will not only boost the confidence of the student, but also prepare them for the work force.

  22. I would agree that employers should not just look at the past work experience of a person. It is a factor, but they should focus more on the trainability of a person. Budgets on training modules and development of an employee should be given priority.

    Roberto III Bascuna Reply
  23. The majority market trend in Australia is not encouraging the graduates to get into the work force. Sometimes, you can see the employer being said that experience is more important than a piece of paper. The government is saying that they prefer to train local employees but in reality there is no government initiative for graduate opportunities in public and private sectors. I have one question that why experience is much more important than a person’s capacity and knowledge. Experience is just a short time training and the important factor is whether you are employing a good employee or not. No one has experience when he or she is born.

  24. There are graduate programs being offered by companies, it requires little or no experience. But, with the huge numbers of graduates, having an experience is already an advantage. Joining organizations in line with your field is a first step that could help you with your career path. These professionals have mentorship programs which could be a good alternative for that ‘foot in the door’…

    Roberto Bascuna III Reply

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