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While hiring intentions among Australian employers remain positive, their employees feel let down on the training front and many are actively looking to switch jobs, the latest Hudson Report has revealed.
The report tracked the hiring intentions of more than 2,000 employers, as well as the attitudes of 1,330 employees in April this year. It suggests that the job market is set to remain buoyant going into the second half of 2016, with almost 1 in 3 employers planning to increase hiring, creating a net effect of 22.6 percent – a slight dip on the first-half outlook, but still higher than the preceding four years.
The net effect is calculated by taking the percentage of employers surveyed who intend to increase permanent staff levels over the next six months, and subtracting the percentage of employers who expect to decrease staff levels.
“It appears that despite confusing economic and political signals, employers are getting on with the job at hand and investing in the people they need to grow their business,” said Dean Davidson, Executive General Manager, Hudson Recruitment Australia & New Zealand.
However, these plans could be complicated by a wave of staff departures, with the survey revealing that 44 percent of employees are actively looking for new opportunities – up from 26 percent late last year. A further 32 percent are open to hearing about opportunities, with only 24 percent content to stay put.
“The number of employees with their eyes on the exit has jumped significantly since last year. More professionals are convinced that the buoyant job market is here to stay, and are considering how they can build their career in this environment. This should sound alarm bells for employers, who will need to redouble their retention efforts and be ready to manage an uptick in staff departures,” explained Davidson.
Training and career growth important for retention
One reason behind this restlessness may be disappointment with training options, in the face of relentless change. The survey found that 98 percent of employees say developing their skills is important or extremely important, while 60 percent feel more pressured to learn new skills than two years ago. Unfortunately, however, 1 in 2 don’t feel supported by their manager to improve their existing skills.
“Professionals keenly understand that their skills are crucial to their success and employability. We are living in a time of unprecedented disruption: technology evolves fast, change is a constant and employees know they need to keep up. In fact, 98 percent of them take personal responsibility for their professional development and 66 percent are spending three or more hours a month on it.”
“But employers need to meet them in the middle. Skills development is crucial to ensuring individuals can perform, progress and deliver for the business, yet this continues to be a blind spot for employers, evidenced by the fact that less than half have a defined strategy to train their people,” said Davidson.
The survey also reveals a mismatch between individuals and their employers regarding the skills in demand. Digital literacy, for example, is third on the list of soft skills employees want to develop, but at no. 10 for employers. Where they do see eye to eye, however, is on the ability to drive and manage change: it’s at the top of employers’ wishlist and second on employees’.
“These results show that organisations need an in-depth understanding of the skills and competencies required for their people to perform effectively, as well as a plan to develop their leadership capability. The starting point has to be a conversation around what benefits both the individual and the organisation, so they can see the areas of alignment,” said Davidson.
ACT leading the way on hiring optimism
The ACT is leading the country in terms of growth, where almost 1 in 2 employers are looking to add staff. Technology and professional services, in particular, are flourishing in the nation’s capital.
The report suggests that the Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia job markets have started stabilising after a tough year in 2015, while NSW and Victoria continue to perform strongly, with hiring intentions tracking in line with the national outlook.
“Not only have commodity prices recovered somewhat, the worst is hopefully over, in terms of job losses caused by projects moving from construction to operational phase in Western Australia and Queensland.
“While the global and national economies are facing challenges, these results demonstrate a sense of optimism among organisations. This aligns with the trends we are seeing in our business. Employers who have been taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to hiring are finally feeling confident enough to make a move,” Mr Davidson said.