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Job ads fall as skills-starved sectors identified

Monday, 7 November 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
The number of job advertisements has recorded its sixth fall in seven months, according to ANZ, while the latest Clarius Skills Index highlights which sectors will be badly hit by skills shortages.

 

According to the latest ANZ Job Advertisement Series, job ads on the internet and in newspapers fell 0.7% in October. This represents the sixth fall in seven months.

 

Newspaper job ads were 2.7% lower in September, while internet advertising was 2.8% higher over the same period, partly due to the shift towards online advertising.

 

In trend terms, total job ads fell 0.6% month-on-month in October, with the annual growth rate slowing to 1.5% year-on-year.

 

Job advertising began slowing in January and has been negative since April.

 

Ivan Colhoun, ANZ head of Australian economics and property research, says the data suggests below-trend growth in employment and a gradual rise in the unemployment rate.

 

“Trends in job advertising are again beginning to reflect the emergence of a more noticeable geographic split to Australian economic growth,” Colhoun says.

 

“The trend in job advertising remains positive for Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland… [but] is continuing to slow in the more populous states of NSW and Victoria.”

 

According to Colhoun, ANZ predicts the unemployment rate to rise to 5.5% by mid 2012, which is consistent with employment growth of less than 5,000 jobs per month.

 

“However, with the mining investment boom building through 2012… ANZ does not foresee a more substantial increase in the unemployment rate,” he says.

 

Meanwhile, the latest Clarius Skills Index, which measures the supply and demand for skilled labour across 20 job categories, eased slightly to 99.7 index points in the September quarter.

 

This result is down from 100 in the previous quarter. A ranking below 100 indicates skilled supply outnumbers demand.

 

The survey reveals skills gaps in seven of the 20 job categories, with health, education and engineering among the hardest hit.

 

“Health, education and engineering employers will find it toughest to replace highly skilled, retiring staff as baby boomers enter their final years of employment, despite efforts by many organisations to retain them,” the report said.

 

The report also makes note of the aging demographic of the workforce. The percentage of the labour force aged 55-56 has increased to 13.8%, compared to just 8.3% in 1998.

 

Clarius Group chief executive Kym Quick says these workers will reach retirement age in 10 to 15 years, urging employers to start planning for their departure from the workforce.

 

“Australian employers need to either convince them to stay longer in the labour market or plan to replace them with younger qualified workers,” Quick says.