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The Labour market in Australia and New Zealand

An increasing trend throughout 2015 was temporary and contract work, which often increases during times of uncertainty. With the current state of the Australian economy, demand for contract positions is expected to remain high in 2016, despite the news that the Australia Bureau of Statistics has confirmed a positive trend for the Australian economy, with the unemployment rate decreasing to 5.8%. A similar trend has been confirmed in the last release of the New Zealand “Labor Market Statistics,” with unemployment falling to 5.3% and employment growth rising to 0.9% in the last quarter of 2015.

An overwhelming proportion of industries that are in an growth phase in Australia and New Zealand are service industries, not goods industries. Manufacturing has declined and the service sector now makes up the biggest contribution to GDP. The newest and/or fastest growing industries in Australia and New Zealand’s new age - mostly service industries - are: ICT & Fast Broadband, Business Services, Financial Services, Property Services, Health and Education, etc.

Despite the growth of some sectors, Australia and Sydney in particular have seen the negative effects of major offshoring projects as several international firms have chosen to move their operations to Asia. Motor Vehicle Manufacturing is declining significantly while retail spaces are also dramatically changing due to the newest online shopping trends.

What are the main issues a job seeker is faced with?

In general, the job market is tougher and more competitive than it has been for many years. Job seekers are finding it difficult to land their dream job maintaining exactly the same salary and the same level of responsibilities. Those looking for their next role may find that they have to accept roles with lower salaries and fewer responsibilities than they previously held.

Each industry has its own challenges. For example, in the automotive industry, people who are highly skilled in this specific field are finding it difficult to transfer their skills to a new industry, with many retraining or re-skilling to increase their employability.

A trend affecting the IT industry is that contract roles are becoming more commonplace. As a result, job seekers are forced to consider this type of employment status even though their primary goal may be a permanent role. 

In terms of finding roles, like so many other geographies, there is a big emphasis on social media, with many companies using this as a key recruitment channel. For those who have not changed jobs in a while, understanding how to market yourself effectively through online channels like LinkedIn or Twitter is extremely important.

Overview of the Outplacement market in Australia

There is a Governmental structured consultation process that needs to be conducted before separation, however, in all states of Australia there isn't a legal obligation to provide outplacement support for employees leaving the organization through redundancy or retrenchment. That said, most organizations do offer outplacement to all levels of employees, from blue collar workers through senior executives, offering different levels of support depending on an employee’s seniority and tenure. There is a firm belief in Australia that treating employees with dignity and respect has a major impact on the company’s ability to attract employees in the future. In the same way an excellent customer experience is critical to business success, so too is the overall employee experience.

While outplacement is a well-known practice for Human Resources, exiting employees are usually not informed about what services and types of support they will receive. It is therefore common for the outplacement provider to have a conversation with the exiting employee to explain in-depth the contents of the program and the support they will be entitled to. Otherwise, there is a real chance they won’t benefit from the support made available to them.

It is common practice also to provide support for the notification day. Career Consultants are usually present onsite to assist employees after the notification meeting. However, there is a very clear delineation between the company's role and the outplacement consultant's role. The company has a clear responsibility to explain the circumstances of dismissal, provide appropriate paperwork and answer any legitimate questions that the individual has about their dismissal. Failure to do this, under Australian law, can be judged as harsh treatment, and there have been cases where individuals have been reinstated in their job because of the "unfairness" of this treatment.