Comment from Bullhorn: Recruitment trends in Australia- reskilling, diversity, and digital transformation

By Aaron McIntosh, APAC General Manager, Bullhorn

The Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) region presents some exciting opportunities for recruitment firms and professionals. The Australian market, in particular, stands out as a high growth area with demand for specific skills on the rise. However, global talent shortages affect the ANZ region as much as they do other markets, and recruiters are battling to find the talent they need.

To investigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the region’s recruiters, Bullhorn surveyed more than 250 Australian and New Zealand recruitment professionals. The resulting report highlights key trends in hiring, digital transformation, and diversity – and looks at how firms are changing their businesses in response to these trends. Overall, recruiters are optimistic and expect higher revenue, budgets, investments, and placements in 2019. Almost a quarter (23%) of our respondents believe that a revenue increase of more than 25% is on the cards.

However, this depends on how successfully recruiters overcome current industry challenges. A closer look at existing issues and potential solutions will help recruiters develop strategies for remaining competitive.


Current challenges

Recruiters identified three top hiring challenges for the year ahead: 74% cited skills shortages and shallow talent pools, 32% are concerned with accelerating salary increases, and 26% believe the rise of non-traditional labour models, such as freelancers and temporary contract workers, will be a tough trend to adapt to.

To address the skills shortage, 78% of recruiters believe that reskilling candidates and employees is necessary. A further 72% think that the competition for qualified candidates will intensify in 2019, resulting in accelerated pay increases. However, accelerating pay increases isn’t necessarily a sustainable, long-term approach, particularly for smaller businesses.

Another necessary advantage for recruiters in light of current skills shortages is the ability to engage candidates from a variety of different backgrounds. In fact, 64% of our respondents agreed that diverse organisations perform more effectively than others. Intelligent, data-driven technologies can help improve diversity by reducing bias in the applicant selection process, connecting recruiters with candidates that may not be an immediately obvious choice for a role. And, encouragingly, more than half (58%) of respondents said that their firms’ technology investments will increase over the next 12 months.

Given that the recruitment industry is continually changing, recruiters need to keep up with regular training and skills development. What’s more, as more automation is implemented in the workplace, recruiters can focus on building relationships with key stakeholders. Our report shows that 16% of respondents believe that training in automation is the most important skill to develop, while 21% would prioritise training on client management and relationship building.


Growth prospects

While the year ahead presents some significant challenges, most recruiters remain optimistic about the accompanying opportunities. These include globalisation and technological developments (cited by 75%). A large proportion (83%) of recruiters believe that digital transformation will help their agency’s growth, while an even greater number (91%) believe successful adoption of new technologies is crucial to remaining competitive.

As part of the digital transformation journey, artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly prevalent in the workplace. Recruiters’ attitudes towards these developments are largely positive, with 59% saying that AI will benefit candidate and client engagement.

This positive attitude to embracing technology indicates important progress for the recruitment industry. As competition increases, firms will need to streamline and speed up their services, improve their candidate experiences and meet clients’ demands efficiently. Comprehensive workforce solutions, supported by digital transformation, can help firms truly stand out from the crowd.


Macro trends

The state of the economy is an ongoing concern for almost half of respondents. Almost half (48%) cite market uncertainty as a potential problem for future growth. More than a third are concerned about the potential legislative agenda, with 39% apprehensive about new rules and regulations coming in the year ahead.

Access to global talent pools is also a cause for concern: 31% of recruiters fear that policies limiting labour movement are problematic. Immigration restrictions, like the end of the 457-visa scheme, have reduced the influx of overseas professionals in key areas like STEM. This could add pressure to firms and their clients searching for talent in an ever-smaller pool, and push them to tap into alternative channels.

Looking ahead, the recruitment industry in Australia shows an overwhelming belief in digital transformation. In the face of talent shortages, coupled with immigration restrictions, firms need to broaden their search for qualified candidates using the best tools for the job. Embracing technology is crucial to closing the gap between recruiters and candidates in today’s digital and mobile world – but it is not the only deciding factor.

To truly support their clients’ hiring needs in 2019 and beyond, recruiters need to also consider reskilling, accelerating pay increases, and focusing on the non-obvious hires who are often overlooked because they don’t fit the traditional profile. A diverse approach to recruitment, supported by the right technology, will help firms deliver better value and meet their clients’ hiring needs.


Aaron McIntosh is the APAC General Manager for recruitment-focused CRM and applicant tracking software provider Bullhorn


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