Employers in all states and territories were less likely to be recruiting in the last quarter of 2023 compared with a year ago, according to Jobs and Skills Australia’s Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey (REOS) December quarter 2023 report released today.
South Australia recorded the lowest recruitment rate of any state or territory in the December quarter 2023, with 46% of employers recruiting staff. By comparison, the Northern Territory* recorded the highest recruitment rate (67%) followed by Queensland at 55%.
Employers also reported they had less difficulty recruiting staff over the year to the December quarter 2023. Victoria recorded the largest annual decline in the recruitment difficulty rate (down by 18 percentage points). While the labour market remains reasonably tight, these trends reflect a softening in the demand for labour, with employers being able to fill their positions more easily relative to a year ago.
A lack of applicants was a leading reason for employers’ recruitment difficulty in 2022, but this shifted to a lack of suitable applicants in 2023. Other typical reasons employers have difficulty recruiting included the conditions of the job (such as working hours, pay, or the type of work on offer) as well as candidates lacking experience or technical skills.
In regional and remote areas, the location of the business can also make it difficult for the employer to fill their vacancies. While the data show that employers in these areas usually find it harder to recruit staff than those based in the cities, they all experienced less difficulty hiring staff in the December quarter 2023 compared with the same time last year.
Most reported industries recorded a decline in their recruitment rate over the year. The largest decrease was for Retail Trade, down by 16 percentage points to 44%. The lowest recruitment rate this quarter was for Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, down by 6 percentage points to 35%.
Despite Accommodation and Food Services having the highest recruitment rate (70%) it also recorded the lowest rate of recruitment difficulty (41%). This industry also had the highest proportion of employers expecting to increase their staffing numbers (32%). However, that figure is down by 14 percentage points from a year ago.
Consistent with Jobs and Skills Australia’s findings that skill shortages are most pronounced for Technicians and Trade Worker roles, 73% of employers hiring for these workers said they had difficulty recruiting. More than two in every three employers hiring these workers (70%) took longer than a month to fill their vacancies, the highest of any occupation group.
*Due to small sample sizes, data for the NT are a 6-month average instead of quarterly.
About the Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey (REOS)
The REOS 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.