Senior finance job vacancies in Australia are drying up, but plenty of opportunities still exist for mid-level candidates in the AUD$80-200 000/year salary bracket.
Simon Meyer, MD of PageGroup in Australia, says that the ‘visibility’ on the outlook for the Australian economy has dropped, and under these circumstances – as happened during the global financial crisis in 2009 – the job market in key centres tends to ‘freeze over’.
Speaking on the release of PageGroup’s 2013/2014 Salary and Employment Forecast, Meyer says that business confidence, particularly in the eastern states, has weakened thanks to a decline in the performance of the mining and resources sector.
“The business community tends to be quite conservative in nature, and without the X-Factor of mining and resources, there is some cautiousness about employment.”
Still a strong job market
He says business confidence and hiring are probably at 2006-2007 levels, off the peak of 2008, but not nearly as bad as the dark days of the 2009 global financial crisis. “Australia remains a relatively strong employment market compared to its northern hemisphere counterparts.”
His views are borne out by the results of the Salary and Employment survey, which shows that 68% of respondents believe that current hiring activity is the same or stronger than the past 12 months. The job types enjoying the most demand include commercial managers, management accountants, and financial planning and analysis professionals.
The bad news for non-Australians looking to move to the world’s happiest country for a job is that nearly three quarters of those surveyed do not expect a professional skills shortage in the next 12 months.
Part of the reason, says Meyer, is “…a constant stream of senior-level Australian professionals returning from overseas markets due to uncertain global economic conditions. Opportunities abroad for Australians are declining as expatriate contracts come to an end.”
While opportunities for finance professionals targeting annual packages in the region of AUD$400 000 have dwindled, Meyer says there are plenty of jobs at lower salary levels, particularly in the digital space.
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He says that while 65% of employers say they have no plans to hire expats on the controversial 457 visa, the country lacks sufficient people and candidates who understand digital as a channel. “So we are probably recruiting about 50% of our candidates abroad, and they are coming in on the 457 visa.”
The 457 visa has been widely used by employers to bring people into the country from abroad with specific skills to deal with Australia’s skills shortages in certain industries. The visas are valid for up to four years, but many non-nationals have converted their visas into permanent residence or citizenship.
Pay bump on the horizon
Good news for people already employed in finance roles in Australia is that over the coming year, 75% of companies will increase salaries between 3% and 5%. Only 2% will be offering a 6-8% salary bump, and a mere 1% will raise pay 9-11%.
The remaining 22% of companies polled say they will not offer increases in the next 12 months or the increase will be capped at 2%.