For many of us, our alarm went off on Monday, for the first time this year. I heard it called “back to work 3rd week blues syndrome”.  So if you weren’t jumping out of your skin, take heart in knowing you’re not alone. Just over half of us were dreading the prospect, according to a Telstra survey of 1810 people.

The good news is that our inspiration will return next week (historically speaking). It’s the Year of the Fire Rooster, but it won’t let us roost for long. The Roosters’ confidence, courage and resourcefulness will be a breath of fresh air, after 12 months of the monkey’s shenanigans. This Fire Rooster’s sending fresh challenges and practical solutions our way.

Years: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

Rooster-born people are multi-talented and observant. By nature, they are active, talkative and love the limelight (along with the popularity).  As such, they thrive in front-line careers like journalism, sales, public relations and teaching.

There’s just a couple of red flags. Whilst Roosters are loyal and devoted friends, they are known to crow about themselves (a lot), which annoys those around them at times.

Relationship wise, they pursue everlasting love, and pay close attention to their soul mate.  If you’re an Ox or Snake, you rate high on their compatibility scale. Conversely, if you’re a Rat, Rabbit, Pig or Horse (forget it).

We hope the Year of the Rooster brings you prosperity, vitality and happiness. Meanwhile, we’ve taken the Rooster’s lead, to explore the lay of the land without ruffling too many feathers (career wise – that is).

The question our candidates are asking us is “Where are we at with the job market in 2017, given the collision of technology and jobs?”  We’ll give you a snapshot through our eyes, and also go further afield.

What we’re finding at the Top is a spike in demand for temps in business support, especially top executive assistants and experienced receptionists.  The call is for great communicators with transferable skills, who are sales oriented and tech-savvy.  Public sector hiring has also been buoyant.

Hiring demand is strong across the scope of accounting and finance roles, along with business analysts. We have found our clients are happy to wait for a candidate who is the right cultural fit.

Permanent jobs are up on this time last year, as well as temp-to-perm options. The market is moving faster, and employers are more willing to hire on “soft skills” like leadership and people skills.  It’s easier to train in technical skills.

From our industrial desk, Warren is finding construction trades are still tricky to source, particularly carpenters, electricians, plumbers and panel beaters.  There are more earthmoving diesel mechanics under-employed, as a hangover from the mining downturn.  More construction workers from Northern Queensland have relocated south to find work after the collapse of the local economy and an oversupply of housing.

Our latest Executive Outlook survey found that skill shortages have crept back, for 40% of us. Based on our interviews with over 100 business leaders, we identified pockets of demand for:

  • Qualified, experienced accountants, credit controllers and auditors.
  • Experienced doctors, nurses and aged care professionals.
  • Social workers with NDIS knowledge.
  • Confident sales professionals, to develop business opportunities.
  • Web developers, coders, and digital marketers, who can communicate at all levels and hit the ground running.
  • Good plumbers (they’re as rare as hen’s teeth).
  • Cybersecurity specialists to tackle hackers and inside leaks (Demand is on the rise).

 Just this week, a 7.30 report exposed a brazen case of identity fraud. It is a new modus operandi for scammers to access the victim’s bank accounts linked to their phone number. In addition, we have just seen the largest Yahoo data breach in history. We’re in an arms race to fix it.

Here are the hiring hot-spots further afield.

Australian Industry Group (Shortage of tradies)

  • We are headed for a dire shortage of tradies, according to the latest AiG’s Workforce Development Needs report. Their survey of 300 companies highlighted a shift away from manual jobs to white-collar professions.
  • 52.2% of the companies cited ‘technicians and trade workers’ as areas of skills shortages in the past year.  In contrast, only 8.5% nominated ‘professionals’ as an area of greatest need.
  • AiG’s Performance of Services Index showed a growth in services jobs. This reflected increased customer demand, a growth in orders from the mining sector, stable interest rates and healthy agricultural harvests.

IBIS World report (Jobs growth over the next five years)

  • Online shopping jobs are set to grow at an annualised rate of 7.5%. The chief beneficiaries will be point-of-sale technicians, web and UX designers and digital marketers.
  • IT security jobs will grow at 6% pa, as the need for counter-threat technology builds around artificial intelligence software and the NBN rollout.
  • Online data storage is anticipated to drive jobs growth of 5.9% pa, for professionals with skills in cloud management, data and storage design.
  • Government support for innovation is expected to spur demand for trademark and patent lawyers, to protect research and development.

To keep all this in perspective, other leading indicators in December show a patchy labour market (be sure to check out these ABS part-time trends).

  • ABS unemployment rose to 5.8%, despite the creation of 13,500 jobs. The participation rate is 64.7%. Head of macroeconomics, Bruce Hockman, said “There are now around 120,900 more people working part-time than a year ago, and around 35,300 fewer people working full-time”.
  • ANZ job ads fell by 1.9%. Senior economist Jo Masters said: “While the labour market lost some momentum, confidence remains elevated, capacity appears to be on the rise, and retail sales have strengthened”.
  • Roy Morgan’s poll showed real unemployment was 9.2%, with 10.8% under-employed (that’s 20% of Australians looking for work or looking for more work).  Gary Morgan said “The challenges facing the Australian economy in 2017 are well known with Hazelwood power station in Victoria due to close down in April, the continuing questions about the Alcoa smelter in Portland, the Arrium iron ore and steel business and the Australian car industry closing down later in the year all set to trigger thousands of job losses”.

So, all in all, there are positive signs of a reasonably confident market. Candidates need to be wise, in understanding where the needs are to secure their future. Do you have the skills to match? If not, what can you be doing to access training and up-skilling programs?

Well, that’s a wrap. We wish you well for 2017. If you can, ignore the rooster’s early morning alarm now and again, make more time for you and take more breaks.  Breathe deeply to slow your mind. Switch off your phone, even for a few hours.

Jan