The changing jobs market in Australia during COVID-19

The course of the recent pandemic has changed every aspect of our normal life, and this includes the jobs market. Here in Australia for example, the largest job ads board in the country, SEEK, has reported a significant decrease (-34%) in the past month of the number of job ads posted on a year-over-year basis. We spoke to Hannah Rickson, Recruitment Consultant at Progressive Recruitment, who gave her expert insights into the current climate of the jobs market here, and the trends you should be aware of if you are job seeking or hiring at the moment.

According to SEEK, certain industries have been hit harder than others in relation to the pandemic. There are differences between the states as well, as Victoria experienced the greatest drop in job ads posted (-39.7%), followed by NSW (-35%). There are also a far greater number of applications per job ad than normal across all sectors. It seems that the effects of COVID-19 are being felt across the board, as 82% of Australians say their job has been directly impacted by COVID-19, with 30% having their hours reduced or losing their role completely. However, it’s not all negative as while candidate visits to seek.com.au are down, application rates for roles in Call Centre & Customer Service have increased by more than six times over the last three weeks (as of April 16th). This shows just how drastically the markets have changed over this relatively short period of time. SEEK have also listed the following as areas of growth jobwise:

  • Healthcare & Medical: roles such as Nursing (Aged Care and General Medical), Applied Health, GPs and Psychology, Counselling & Social Work

  • Information & Communication Technology: Developers/ Programmers, Software Engineering, Business/ Systems Analysts and Project Management

  • Trades & Services: Automotive, Fitters, Turners & Machinists & Electricians

  • Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics: Warehousing, Storage & Distribution, Road Transport, Assembly & Process Work and Machine Operators.

  • Mining, Resources & Energy: Engineering & Maintenance and Operations.

Here at Progressive Recruitment, we recently ran a virtual event on '’Embracing the new ways of working’’, where our expert consultants shed some light on trends within their markets. According to those who gave their insights, our clients in Aviation, Gaming, Sports Media and Hospitality have felt the most severe impact of the pandemic, with a number of them having to let go of all of their contractors and stand down large percentages of permanent employees. Speaking of contractors, projects that are deemed critical to business are continuing whereas projects focused on innovation or seen as “nice to haves” are being put on hold. Business critical projects seem to be; supply chain/ logistics, technology infrastructure and mobility, cyber security and key business systems/applications. We recently worked on an article which outlined the various challenges and opportunities contractors are experiencing now, which you can read here.



Since 27th March, people’s working lives in Australia have changed by way of the following - 82% of workers have said that the pandemic has impacted their roles, with 36% saying it has changed a little and 46% saying they have experienced major change. Only 18% remain unaffected. In terms of trends, SEEK have also found that 1 in 3 Australians are now working from home. Kendra Banks, Managing Director of SEEK ANZ, had this to say on the trend, ‘’For example, SEEK’s Sales and Customer Service teams are now operating from home 100% of the time, and when speaking to our clients, we know we are not the only ones that have moved these roles out of the office. This opens up flexibility and opportunity to those who wouldn’t be able to commute to an office to fit this work in around other commitments. Geography is no longer a barrier.”

Soft skills such as Time Management, Social Intelligence & Communication, Digital Literacy, Collaboration and Agility and Negotiation are more in demand than ever before. We expanded on this in our article on '’Soft skills that are in demand with new ways of working’’, which you can read in full here. These soft skills are more important than ever as we have seen with the transition to remote working, and are highly desirable within the jobs market right now. People who have engaged in remote working previously are also seen as having a competitive edge, and this is set to continue as long as remote working is seen as BAU.

The Australian Government have introduced a series of measures to help employers, job seekers and businesses adapt to the current jobs market.

These include;

  • JobKeeper payment to allow businesses to continue to pay their employees
  • Temporary cash flow support for small and medium businesses
  • Wage subsidies for employers of apprentices and trainees
  • Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
  • Relief for commercial and residential tenants
  • Increased income support
  • Early access to superannuation
  • Additional assistance for regions and industries most affected by COVID-19

As we navigate through the course of this pandemic, the jobs market is set to change time and time again. We aim to keep you as informed and up to date as possible and to support you with your respective hiring and job seeking needs throughout this challenging time. Therefore, we recommend you keep an eye on both our website and LinkedIn for regular updates. Please feel free to get in touch to discuss anything on the above or to find out more about the recruitment services we offer, and if you are looking for the next step in you career then keep an eye on our live roles.                                                                        

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