Australian job ads continue to plummet

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The latest figures have indicated that newspapers as a medium for posting job advertisements continues to free fall – yet internet jobs ads have also declined.

According to the ANZ Job Advertisements Series, over the past five months the number of newspaper ads has fallen by 6.1%, while internet ads have dropped by 2.1%. Overall, the current total number of jobs advertised to the public is 9.6% lower than this time last year. The decline is indicative of weakness in the labour market and a rise in unemployment, ANZ's head of Australian economics Ivan Colhoun said. “The slight declining trend for job advertising in recent months, together with a pick-up in job losses due to restructuring and businesses' productivity initiatives, is likely to be consistent with a slight further trend rise in the unemployment rate over coming months,” he noted in the report.

Colhoun added that the most concerning aspect of the figures is a drop in job ads in the major mining states. “Of most interest from a macroeconomic perspective has been the emerging weakening trend in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland; the states most positively influenced by the mining investment boom,” he said.

One reason behind the overall decline may also be due to increased offshoring of services-based roles. A combination of the internet and the process of offshoring will see many jobs become obsolete over the next decade – travel agents, car manufacturers, retail workers, accountants and IT workers are all professionals most likely to get the axe, Greg Pankhurst from Balance Recruitment said. “The majority of all services can be provided remotely at a fraction of the cost,” he said.

And it’s not just low-level jobs going offshore. “We have seen an increasing trend for higher skilled jobs,” Pankhurst said, noting that more and more IT programming roles, designers and mid-high level financial controllers are being offshored. On the other hand, HR is unlikely to see an end to demand for on face-to-face contact roles, namely in the hospitality, trades, government and education sectors. Pankhurst agreed that roles in mining industry are also on the chopping block, despite having long been the ‘poster child’ for the burgeoning Australian economy. “There’s a lot of work being done in terms of trying to automate and use robotics to replace the people that are literally at the coal face,” Pankhurst said.

The reason is quite simple – robotics and automation lessen the massive occupational health and safety overheads and reduce the expense of a largely fly-in fly-out workforce.

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