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As Canberra approaches the end of a public service recruitment freeze, Simon Cox, Director of HorizonOne, predicts a “big comeback” for the ACT. “2016 saw a steady, consistent growth in recruitment activity,” Mr Cox said. But 2017 seems set to surpass last year, with the local recruitment agency already receiving 65% more job vacancies than this time last year. Mr Cox predicts that there will be major shortages in quality contract resources over the next six months, particularly in the public sector. “Many government organisations are already at their Average Staffing Level (ASL) caps,” he said. “As they strive to drive new projects and achieve results before the end of financial year, they will become further reliant on contractors.” Talent shortages are increasing in the areas of accounting and finance, administration, human resources, technology, communications and marketing, and government. In particular, Canberra seems to be in need of tax services and budget specialists, executive assistants, recruitment specialists, public affairs specialists at an executive level, and project officers. Another employment sector that is “booming” is within the property market. “The Canberra property market is going stronger and stronger with a plethora of infrastructure and development projects already underway,” Mr Cox said. “This boom creates a lot of opportunities for those with relevant experience such as project and property managers.” Tradies are also in high demand. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the ACT’s unemployment rate is the lowest in Australia currently, at 3.7%, with 215,000 Canberrans now in employment – an increase of 4,000

people (or 1.9%) from a year ago. “Our low unemployment level and increased job participation rate highlights the strength of the ACT economy and how well the Territory has bounced back from the Abbott Government cuts,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said. “During the 2013-2016 period, the ACT Government decided to invest heavily in our economy to keep the Territory out of recession. This strategy worked and we are now experiencing the benefits.” Mr Barr said the biggest threat to the ACT job market remains “further cuts to Commonwealth public service agencies and our national institutions”. According to Mr Cox, job boards like Seek are becoming less effective globally. He said there is now more of a focus on direct sourcing and online networking to hunt down “elusive skillsets”, but online networks such as LinkedIn are “here to stay”. For recent graduates, the workforce can still look pretty bleak. “A lot of younger people are at the digital age, but it’s not enough anymore,” Mr Cox said. “It’s important to talk to prospective employers face-to-face. It has an impact because no one is doing it.” Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) CEO Leanne Cover said that CIT is all about employment outcomes. In the last few years it has introduced a number of new courses to address skills shortages and job growth, including programs in cyber security, renewable energy, nursing and barbering. “We know what the workers of the future need,” Ms Cover said. “CIT is conscious, and advises students, that employers are on the hunt for adaptable employees with broad skills in program management and problem solving, and that are willing to upskill.” - Laura White

23 February 2017  
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