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With 43 years experience in recruitment, and having steered companies through and out of recessions in the past, we asked Nigel Harse about the facts he’s seeing from the Staffing Industry Metrics panel of recruitment agencies, and where he sees the market heading.

Nigel Harse

2020 will be a year we all remember!

Many people are asking what will 2020 look like in comparison to 2019 and how do we compare as an industry to other Countries?

We all know that gleaning this information isn’t easy, but we can reference the work of Staffing Industry Analysts ( SIA )  to help answer some questions. 

The table below provides an insight into what happened in 2019 and what a post COVID world of 2021 is expected to look like.

SIM data for 2019 (103 participants) differs slightly from SIA who suggest 2% growth on the year. Our data for 2019 reflects a year of slow decline and a 2% reduction on 2018. Our data also suggests that in 2019 sales contracted by 7% in New Zealand.

Our view of how 2020 will play out in Australia and New Zealand also differs to that of SIA.

Given the data we have for the first 7 months of this year we are not expecting to see more than a 10% contraction in 2020 in Australia and perhaps as little as 5% in New Zealand.

And looming ahead to 2021 we are not quite so bullish as SIA but without doubt we are anticipating strong growth, predominantly from flexible workforce solution sales.

As we progress through this pandemic there are some pleasing indicators that reveal how similar the trends are in the States (where we have significant data).

The good news is that demand for perm sales is improving month by month. However, the lockdown in Victoria initiated in August will most likely put a dent in these trends.

At the same time temps and flexible workforce solutions have for many remained stable and on the bright side there are continued signs of growth but the differences between the States is starting to appear and it’s no surprise that Victoria is standing out as the poor performer. In Victoria, things started to look up in July but this is before the savage Stage 4 restrictions kicked in which severely hamper and limit workplace headcounts. Queensland and the ACT are performing well, and NSW is holding its own.

SEEK vacancy trends released recently also reflect the instant and dramatic decline in March and April but with increasing demand throughout the following months.

According to SEEK’s latest snapshot, there are some fluctuations but the total number of Seek job ads has remained largely unchanged over the past couple of weeks and sit at 71% of pre-COVID levels which is an encouraging indicator.

Importantly, advertising volumes continue to recover in most regions, with both Tasmania and the Northern Territory passing pre-COVID levels for the first time since a variety of CD-19 restrictions were imposed. Also, in the past fortnight, both WA and SA were just below pre-pandemic volumes, at 99% and 98% respectively with Queensland sitting at 84%, the ACT – 78% and NSW – 70%.

Victoria is in the doldrums and sits at only 45% of pre-CD-19 levels, however it’s 59% higher than the bottom point in April. Perhaps a closing highlight is the important fact that regional Australia is outperforming metro areas, reaching 97% of pre-CD-19 volumes while metro volumes sit at 67%. This is due to its lower proportion of professional services roles, which is the slowest sector to recover across Australia.

So, as we head into the final quarter of 2020 all of the data suggests that a recovery is already happening, just ensure you have found some of the new waves to ride. We’ll be keeping you posted.

To discuss how APositive can help, please contact us on
1800 276 748 or leave your details below.

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