Revealed: Best sectors for jobseekers right now

CAFES and gyms may have copped the brunt of COVID-19 shutdowns but it is white collar workers feeling the long-term effects of 2020's jobs crisis.

Exclusive analysis of hiring activity by job site SEEK reveals how different sectors and states have fared this year and what we can expect going into 2021.

SEEK employment analyst Leigh Broderick says overall employment levels are not where they would have been if not for the pandemic but he is encouraged by how quickly job opportunities have returned.

"We have had a lot of displacement where people have been stood down or lost their job entirely so, from a job ads point of view, we have to be running ahead of normal to get back to normal," he says.

"We still have a relatively high unemployment rate so not everybody who has lost their job has found one again."

COMPARING THE STATES

Nationally, hiring activity has reached 94 per cent of pre-coronavirus levels - meaning job ad volumes in the four weeks to November 22 were almost on par with those experienced in February before the pandemic was declared.

States with a lot of mining employment have fared better than states dominated by professional services. Picture: iStock
States with a lot of mining employment have fared better than states dominated by professional services. Picture: iStock

While New South Wales (job ads at 86 per cent of pre-pandemic levels), Victoria (89 per cent) and the ACT (90 per cent) still lag, Tasmania (129 per cent), Western Australia (112 per cent), South Australia (110 per cent), the Northern Territory (108 per cent) and Queensland (104 per cent) are all beginning to catch up to where they should have been.

"There is a pretty clear link between an economy being able to work closer to normal and demand for labour," Broderick says.

"The economic mix is also different in different states.

"Queensland and WA are exposed to industries less affected - such as mining - whereas Victoria and NSW are much more reliant on education and professional services and that's why they are struggling. I expect we will see a two-speed recovery."

WORST-HIT INDUSTRIES

During the pandemic's April peak, job ads in sports and recreation dropped to just 8.7 per cent of their pre-coronavirus level. This was the worst-hit industry, followed by hospitality and tourism (12.4 per cent), sales (16.6 per cent), administration and office support (18.1 per cent), and advertising, arts and media (19.1 per cent).

However, Broderick says a lot of jobs that fell hardest because of shutdowns were also the fastest to rebound.

The Mile End Hotel’s duty manager Gerry Ebert, front of house trainee Flynn Lauritsen and 4th year apprentice chef Georgia Salisbury. Picture: Brenton Edwards
The Mile End Hotel’s duty manager Gerry Ebert, front of house trainee Flynn Lauritsen and 4th year apprentice chef Georgia Salisbury. Picture: Brenton Edwards

Hospitality employer Saturno Group has been hiring in recent months and is currently recruiting trainees for its pubs and bottle shops via a two-week hospitality pre-employment program.

The Mile End Hotel duty manager Gerry Ebert, 37, joined the group about five weeks ago after his role was made redundant at Stamford Plaza.

The Croydon (Adelaide) resident spent seven months stood down but officially lost his job when the JobKeeper subsidy was reduced.

"I was quite lucky, it was probably five days before I had the interview at Mile End and I got the job offer the next day," he says. "It was quite a quick turnaround."

Broderick says there is more long-term concern for white collar roles. "For IT professionals, accounting, marketing, those corporate roles, the hirers in that space are very reluctant," he says.

"Part of this is the fact they aren't linked to operational output. The sorts of functions these (professional services) roles perform are more about development and growing the business, not so much keeping the wheels turning."

MOST RESILIENT INDUSTRIES

Hiring activity plummeted in every industry in April, but three industries managed to keep at least half of their pre-coronavirus job ad volumes.

They were mining, resources and energy (70.1 per cent of pre-pandemic levels), government and defence (58.9 per cent) and healthcare and medical (50.2 per cent).

Broderick says mining operations were not significantly affected by the pandemic and some government departments actually increased headcounts to help manage new programs, but some people are surprised that healthcare and medical hiring still dropped during a health crisis. He attributes the contraction of health jobs to restrictions on allied health services and elective surgeries.

Job opportunities in sports and recreation dropped quickly but have also bounced back. Picture: iStock
Job opportunities in sports and recreation dropped quickly but have also bounced back. Picture: iStock

But despite some industries being more resilient this year, Broderick cautions against making career choices based on the job trends during a pandemic.

"It's important to think really long term," he says. "It's also about 'what do I enjoy doing?'."

BOUNCE-BACK INDUSTRIES

SEEK job ad levels in the four-week period to November 22 as a percentage of February job ad levels, before the coronavirus outbreak

Hospitality and tourism 141.9%

Manufacturing, transport and logistics 127.3%

Retail and consumer products 125.8%

Trades and services 121.3%

Farming, animals and conservation 121.2%

Sports and recreation 120.3%

Community services and development 118%

Government and defence 117.8%

Education and training 108.3%

Healthcare and medical 107.6%

Originally published as Revealed: Best sectors for jobseekers right now


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