Recruitment activity eases over the year, but State and Territory results vary

Employers in most states and territories were less likely to be either recruiting or experiencing recruitment difficulty in the first quarter of this year compared with a year ago, according to Jobs and Skills Australia’s Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey (REOS) March quarter report. 

Recruitment activity is strongest in the Northern Territory* and Queensland. The Northern Territory’s recruitment rate was 70% in the March quarter 2024 (noting that data for the Northern Territory are averaged over six months), while Queensland had the second highest recruitment rate at 56%. Recruitment activity is considerably weaker in New South Wales and South Australia. These two states recorded the equal lowest recruitment rates in the March quarter 2024, with 45% of employers recruiting staff. At 46%, Victoria’s rate of recruitment was also low.

Employers had the most difficulty recruiting staff in the Northern Territory and Queensland, with recruitment difficulty rates of 59% and 56% respectively. While all other states and territories have seen significant decreases in recruitment difficulty over the year, in Queensland the recruitment difficulty rate is now only 1 percentage point lower than a year ago. 

Employers in Capital Cities are less likely to be recruiting than those in regional areas. The recruitment rate in Major Cities was 46% in the March quarter 2024, well below the 54% recorded in Inner Regional Australia, as well as in the more remote areas of Australia (Outer Regional, Remote, and Very Remote Australia, also 54%). Over the last year, the recruitment rate has decreased in all areas, with the largest annual decrease recorded for Outer Regional, Remote, and Very Remote Australia (down by 9 percentage points to 54%). 

In the March quarter 2024, employers in country areas continued to have more difficulty recruiting. Recruitment difficulty for employers in Inner Regional Australia was high at 59% and even higher for Outer Regional, Remote, and Very Remote Australia, at 65%. Recruitment was less difficult in Major Cities at 49%. The decline in the recruitment difficulty rate over the year to the March quarter 2024 was largely driven by employers in the Major Cities, falling by 12 percentage points over this period.

All reported industries recorded a decline in their recruitment rate over the year. Accommodation and Food Services continues to record the highest recruitment rate of any industry, at 64%, despite experiencing a 16 percentage points fall in recruitment. The lowest recruitment rate this quarter was for Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, down by 3 percentage points to 41%. 

Consistent with Jobs and Skills Australia’s findings that skill shortages are most pronounced for Technicians and Trade Worker roles, 71% of employers hiring for these workers said they had difficulty recruiting. Approximately two in every three employers hiring these workers (67%) took longer than a month to fill their vacancies, the second highest of any occupation group. At 71%, employers recruiting for Professionals took the longest to fill their vacancies. 

About the Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey (REOS) March quarter 2024 report

The REOS report provides a number of indicators of recruitment activity and recruitment expectations, based on the findings from monthly surveys of approximately 1,000 Australian employers with five or more staff.

*Due to small sample sizes, data for the NT are a 6-month average instead of quarterly.