Positive hiring intentions reinforce SMEs as drivers of national economy

Across the nation, employers in the Australian Capital Territory forecast the nation’s strongest positive hiring intentions.

According to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook survey released today, SMEs are seeking to bolster or maintain their workforce in the coming quarter; a positive sign for those businesses that are recognised to be key drivers of the national economy.

The survey found that 15% of small businesses and 16% of medium are looking to hire over the July to September time frame, while most intend to make no change – 79% and 74% respectively. Conversely, only 6% and 7% respectively reported they will seek to curb their headcount.

The resulting national Net Employment Outlook – NEO – is +9% for small business and +11% for medium.

Richard Fischer, Managing Director, ManpowerGroup Australia and New Zealand, said the latest survey results are particularly encouraging for SMEs and show that despite less upbeat economic indicators, the smaller employers are showing admirable resilience.

‘Despite recent macro challenges – such as financial market volatility, an uncertain national political landscape, and record low interest rates – small to medium enterprises still appear to be leading the charge. These businesses have been recognised as the backbone of our national economy and our latest survey figures would suggest that this status is certainly set to continue.

‘SMEs are not only showing resilience; they also look to be setting the pace for growth by intending to hire or at least maintain headcount in the coming quarter. With services in general becoming a growth area for jobs and the economy, a number of SMEs in services sectors are likely benefiting from this uptick.

‘At the same time, there is also greater focus nationally on innovation and new approaches to all areas of business. This is allowing start-ups to get ahead and those experiencing positive outlooks would likely be looking to bolster their teams.’

Growth areas and challenges outside of the SME space

The survey revealed the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate sector for the eleventh consecutive quarter reported the strongest NEO of +15%. Positive hiring intentions jumped three percentage points quarter-on-quarter and dropped three points year-on-year.

‘This is largely a result of a number of large scale upgrades in IT infrastructure and systems about to occur within the financial services space, particularly with the big banks. This will drive employment for individuals with in-demand skills, such as data analytics, cloud computing and IT security,’ Mr Fischer added.

Employers in the Wholesale Trade & Retail Trade sector are also anticipating a conservative hiring pace with an Outlook of +4% for next quarter, increasing by five percentage points quarter-on-quarter and by one percentage point year-on-year.

Across the nation, employers in the Australian Capital Territory forecast the nation’s strongest positive hiring intentions and report an Outlook of +16%, up seven percentage points quarter-on-quarter and 13 percentage points year-on-year. Similarly, businesses in New South Wales and Victoria also indicated they increase their headcount in the next three months, reporting NEOs of +12% and +11%, respectively.

The Northern Territory reported its weakest and third negative hiring outlook since the territory was first included in the survey in quarter two of 2004. It reported a sluggish NEO of -4%, down two percentage points from last quarter and down six percentage points from the same time last year.

‘Employers in the Northern Territory in particular continue to feel the impact of the mining downturn and slow population growth,’ observed Mr. Fischer.

‘While the majority of employers in the Northern Territory are not looking to change their headcount in the next three months, it will be crucial to help them transition its economy to new areas, which we believe will result in opportunities for the wider employment market.’

Bleak prospects are also reported in Western Australia where the NEO stands at a weak -6%, although the third-quarter outlook represents a 10 percentage point improvement quarter-on-quarter.

The following infographic highlights the key take-aways from the research.

MEOS_InfoGraphic_A4_Q3-ManpowerAUS 09062016

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