A BRISBANE recruitment expert predicts Queensland’s unemployment rate will push closer to parity with the national figure in the coming years, bolstered by a thriving resource and energy sector.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today revealed Queensland’s unemployment rate remained at 5.4 per cent in September while just 200 jobs were created, with the seasonally adjusted participation rate rising by 0.4 percentage points.

Recruiter Alex Correa believes Queensland’s unemployment figure will move closer to the national level of 5.1 per cent, with more people entering the workforce as well.

“If we continue on the path we are on I’d say yes we will get closer to the national level, as you only need to look at what’s going on with infrastructure projects, mining and resources, and small business to see the great scope for future job creation,” she says.

“What we’ve found with participation is that more people are returning to the workforce at the moment – they might have been out of it for a few years, maybe even setting up their own businesses, but post-gfc they are coming back.”

The trend participation rate fell by 0.1 percentage points but Correa expects that number to push upwards on the back of a booming economy.

“In the legal industry in particular there are troughs and highs when people are coming in and going out, but over time the trend adjusts itself,” she says.

The October-December Hays Quarterly Report, released yesterday, confirms the labour market is healthy, but very tight, with a growing list of skills now in short supply across Australia.

Director of Hays in Queensland Darren Buchanan, says activity in many sectors is now back to the levels we saw just prior to the global financial crisis hitting Australia.

“Employers are putting on permanent as well as temporary staff and those organisations that reduced headcount during the GFC are now growing their teams to take advantage of business conditions. Even at the support level employers are recruiting to fill skills gaps,” he says.

“But increased demand has quickly exposed the underlying shortage of specialist skills. The cloud above job security may have gone, but we’re bracing for a storm for skills.

In order to help overcome emerging skills shortages, Hays suggests employers take action.

“It’s safe to say that most employers we speak to are aware that the market is becoming candidate short again,” says Buchanan .

“Subsequently there has been an increase in the number of candidates who receive multiple job offers and counter offers. Employers are also starting to shorten their recruitment timeframes in response to the growing competition for the top talent, and are becoming flexible in their set requirements. They’re also investing in their branding in order to ensure the best possible market perception.

“We also advise employers to differentiate their offering to appeal to potential candidates. Knowing what factors each jobseeker is likely to base their decision making on is critical to a successful hire. For example, we suggest organisations communicate clear progression opportunities.”

State treasurer Andrew Fraser highlights September job growth in Queensland for 14 consecutive months.

“What we must remember is that Queensland's trend unemployment rate remains at 5.4 per cent. Treasury's budget prediction for 2010-11 was 5.5 per cent, so that underscores the challenges ahead as the recovery from the global financial crisis builds,” he says.

According to the October to December Hays Quarterly Report, the following skills are in demand:

Accountancy & Finance: Business Analysts, Financial Accountants, Management Accountants, Commercial Analysts and Change and Project Managers are in high demand. Bookkeepers and Accounts Payable candidates are needed to cope with GFC backlogs. Accounting firms will continue to seek experienced Accountants across business services, tax and audit. Larger firms will be active in graduate recruitment.

Architecture: There is a push to secure candidates with Revit software knowledge. Business Developers, Health Planners and Senior Healthcare Architects are sought.

Banking: Mobile lending candidates are needed as banks and non-banking institutions attempt to capture a tough mortgage market. Credit-focused Analysts, Stockbrokers and Dealers Assistants, Relationship Managers, Business Development Managers, Financial Planners in retail and Paraplanners in the non-retail space are needed.

Construction: Contract Administrators and Estimators are the key hotspots of demand. Also in demand are Building Supervisors due to increased demand for housing, Contract Managers as businesses get new projects ready and Project Managers for building and civil construction.

Contact Centres: Frontline customer service candidates and Telesales candidates are sought by employers in most industries.

Education: Demand remains high for Diploma qualified Early Childhood candidates and Early Childhood Teachers. Demand also exists for qualified Secondary Teachers in mathematics, science, languages and design and technology.

Energy: Experienced Design Managers, Construction Managers and Reliability Managers with experience in large scale $100 million and above transmission projects are needed.

Engineering: Civil Engineers for road and highway projects are a prime hotspot of demand. Consultancies are also seeking Senior Engineers and Principals with business development skills. Mid to senior Electrical Engineers and building services professionals with a focus on sustainability in addition to their main discipline are also sought. Investment in rail infrastructure has created demand for Rail Engineers.

Facilities Management: Facilities professionals with a trade or engineering qualification are in high demand. Facilities Managers, Drafters and Engineers with HVAC and mechanical services experience are also sought.

Human Resources: Executive Learning & Development candidates and Culture and Leadership candidates are sought, while Generalists are needed as confidence returns. OHS specialists are needed to harmonise existing policies and drive performance.

Information Technology: Business Analysts, Project Managers, Solutions Architects and Network Engineers are sought. Microsoft technologies remain popular and ASP.NET is on the rise. Demand for Helpdesk and Desktop candidates is growing.

Insurance: Commercial Brokers, Underwriters, life insurance sales professionals, Claims candidates, Liability Loss Adjusters and Account Executives are all needed.

Legal: For in-house positions, banking and finance lawyers with top-tier experience are in high demand. Within private practice, commercial and corporate lawyers are wanted, while litigation, contentious insolvency and insurance areas remain very busy.

Logistics: A general increase in freight volumes has seen demand rise at the operator to mid-management level across transport, warehousing, supply chain and international trade sectors. Fleet Controllers, Warehouse Supervisors and Inventory Planners/Replenishment Coordinators are also needed.

Manufacturing & Operations: As manufacturing ramps up, Middle Management and Engineering candidates are needed. Demand is also very high for Technical Engineers, Electronics Engineers and Project Managers.

Office Support: Experienced Administrators are in high demand in departments that are becoming increasingly busier and are growing. Corporate Receptionists, Personal Assistants and entry-level candidates with one year of experience are also sought.

Oil & Gas: Project Managers, Business Development Managers and Engineers of all disciplines with LNG experience are sought in Queensland, where major LNG projects are about to reach FID.

Policy & Strategy: Skilled Policy Officers as well as Secretariat and Program Officers continue to be in demand. In the not-for-profit sector, Project Managers with professional qualifications are required.

Procurement: Indirect Category specialists are in high demand as organisations increase their spending. Solid Purchasing candidates and high-end Expeditors are also in short supply.

Property: Property professionals with strong retail development experience are needed as major retail landlords prepare to deliver their development pipelines for 2011. Strong Account Managers are also needed.

Resources & Mining: Queensland needs Project Controls candidates to either close out or manage the initial phases of projects, while there are a number of mid to large tier contractors looking for experienced Civil/Project Engineers. Coal Mining Engineers and Coal Exploration Geologists are also sought.

Sales & Marketing: In response to Australia’s strengthening economy, employers are adding to their sales teams and are looking for Business Developers with a proven ability to generate new business. Demand is also evident for sales candidates with construction and related services knowledge.

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