Three trends shaping the Australian workforce

By Aaron McIntosh, General Manager at Bullhorn

By Aaron McIntosh, General Manager at Bullhorn

In Australia, we face some unique hiring challenges. As technology platforms rise in popularity and offer more flexible working arrangements, so too do expectations of what a job should look like. In addition, our growing (and ageing) population, alongside more restrictive immigration policies, can create challenges.

According to Bullhorn’s recent research, future access to global talent pools is a cause for concern for recruitment CEOs. Nearly a third (31%) of recruiters fear that policies limiting labour movement are problematic

But there are also some opportunities unique to the region. And, they make recruiters even more important. With their expertise in hiring practices that make a difference, recruiters are in a unique position to help companies all across the region and could become specialists in working around specific challenges.

A few of the challenges specific to Australia include:

The rise of the gig economy

More people in Australia are choosing to work in the gig economy, which makes it harder to find people who are willing to settle into permanent roles. According to the Victorian government's inquiry into the on-demand workforce, the five most common platforms Australians work for are Airtasker (34.8%), Uber (23%), Freelancer (12%), Uber Eats (11%) and Deliveroo (8%). Unsurprisingly, workers reported high satisfaction with the flexibility of work but were less satisfied with their incomes.

On paper, this might seem like a challenge for employers who can’t offer such flexibility. But in practice, it opens opportunities to work with specialised freelancers and contractors who companies might not be able to afford on a full-time basis.

An aging population

Last year, Australia passed the population milestone of 25 million people. And the thinking goes that as the population ages, the workforce shrinks. But recruiters could change that. If they can set targets to present a more diverse set of candidates to clients and target key groups in the labour force (e.g. seniors), they could increase the number of candidates they put forward for jobs.

Clients should be happy with this approach, too. They’re under increasing pressure to hire and promote underrepresented groups, and retirees come under that category. They are likely to have differing sets of skills and experiences and can help the company grow – both internally and in the eyes of external stakeholders. Most companies can tackle this by tailoring employee structures and progression paths to accommodate this group, and perhaps grant more flexible hours, too.

Restrictions on overseas talent

Australia can't benefit as much as it used to from qualified talent emigrating to the country. Immigration restrictions, such as the end of the 457-visa scheme, have already reduced the influx of overseas professionals in key areas like STEM. As a result, there is an increasing number of skills shortages in the country.

While Australian companies feel the pinch from the changes to migration policy, an aging population and changes to working routines, so too do recruiters trying to fill roles with the right people. Data and technology will be critical in order to broaden their search for qualified candidates, and fill the impending skills gap.


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