Regional job opportunities

Contributing author:

Andrew Gatenby completed a Bachelor of Economics at the Australian National University and has worked as a Labour Market Analyst in the Australian Public Service, most recently at the National Skills Commission, since 2010.

The opinions expressed in the staff authored blog are those of the author/s and do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the National Skills Commission or the Australian Government.

Introduction

The National Skills Commission (NSC) produces the Internet Vacancy Index (IVI)[1], a monthly count of newly lodged online job advertisements in Australia with state/territory, occupational, skill level, and regional levels of detail.

The IVI is the most detailed source of timely recruitment data and can be used as a proxy for labour demand. As part of the IVI release, a regional IVI series is produced, which disaggregates Australia into 37 regions[2], providing insights into job opportunities and labour demand across Australia’s regions.

Overall job advertisements

In seasonally adjusted terms, the latest IVI data show a continued increase in job advertisements, up by 2,800 (or 1.6%) in January to 175,100. Reflecting the continued recovery in the economy and labour market from the COVID-19 pandemic, job advertisements have now increased for nine consecutive months and are 17,500 (or 11.1%) above the level recorded in January 2020.

Chart 1: Job advertisements, January 2019 to January 2021. Source: National Skills Commission, Internet Vacancy Index, seasonally adjusted data, January 2021.
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Chart 1: Job advertisements, January 2019 to January 2021. Biggest decrease is showin in April 2020 with the trend line showing that January 2019 and January 2021 are basically level.

While job advertisements increased in all States and Territories over the year to January 2021, the pace of growth has varied for each jurisdiction. New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT have recorded comparatively sluggish growth in job advertisements, up by a combined 4,300 (or 4.3%) over the year to January 2021. In contrast, the remaining States and the Northern Territory recorded a very strong increase in job advertisements over the period, of 13,000 (or 22.7%).

  • Despite accounting for around 30.0% of the labour force in Australia, Queensland and Western Australia have accounted for a combined 58.8% of the increase in job advertisements over the last year.
Chart 2: Job advertisements index, disaggregated by jurisdiction. Source: National Skills Commission, Internet Vacancy Index, seasonally adjusted data, January 2021.
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Chart 2: Job advertisements index, disaggregated by jurisdiction. the chart highlights the series low point as April 2020, and shows that NSW, VIC and ACT are still recovering to pre-COVID019 levels whereas QLD, SA, WA, TAS and NT have exceeded pre-COVID-19 levels

Capital City and Rest of State breakdown

Job advertisements in the Capital Cities increased by 2,300 (or 2.0%) over the year to January 2021. In the Rest of State areas, job advertisements increased by 13,400 (or 37.9%) over the period.

  • The weaker growth in Capital City job advertisements was due, in large part, to a decline in job advertisements in Melbourne (down by 4,800 or 11.6%) and subdued growth in job advertisements in Sydney (up by a modest 320 or 1.0%).
  • It is worth noting that stronger growth in job advertisements in the Rest of State areas had also been observed prior to COVID-19, although not to the same extent. Over the three years to February 2020, job advertisement increased by 5,500 (or 8.3%) in the Rest of State areas, compared with a decrease of 18,800 (or 7.1%) in the Capital Cities.
Chart 3: Job advertisements index, Capital Cities and Rest of State areas. Source: National Skills Commission, Internet Vacancy Index, seasonally adjusted data, January 2021.
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Chart 3: Job advertisements index, Capital Cities and Rest of State areas. This chart shows that Rest of State areas are experiencing higher job growth from May 2020 compared to Capital Citites.

It is important to note, however, that despite job advertisements growth in the Rest of State areas far outpacing the Capital Cities, the majority (70.8% in January 2021) of recruitment activity remains concentrated in the Capital Cities.

That said, as shown in Chart 4, the proportion of job advertisements in Capital Cities fell significantly during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic and has yet to recover. Indeed, prior to COVID-19, the record low share of job advertisements in Capital Cities (since the inception of the regional IVI in March 2010) was the 76.7% recorded in July 2012, well above the current share of 70.9%.

Chart 4: Share of job advertisements in the Capital Cities (%), January 2019 to January 2021. Source: National Skills Commission, Internet Vacancy Index, seasonally adjusted data, January 2021.
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Share of job advertisements in the Capital Cities (%), January 2019 to January 2021. This chart shows that COVID-19 had a big impact on job advertisements in Capital Cities, declining by almost 6%. This decline has not improved much into January 2021 although the trend line has stabilised.

The growth in recruitment activity in the Rest of State areas has outpaced the Capital Cities for all Skill Level groups over the last year. The strongest growth for both Capital City and Rest of State areas was recorded for Skill Level 5 (up by 24.8% and 67.8%, respectively).

  • While strong growth in recruitment activity continues to be observed in lower skilled occupation groups (Skill Levels 4 and 5), it is important to understand that employment levels in these Skill Level groups were severely impacted by the initial impact of COVID-19. Indeed, 71.7% of the drop in total employment (or 573,300 persons) over the May quarter 2020 was recorded for Skill Levels 4 and 5. As a result, high levels of recruitment activity for these Skill Level groups will need to be sustained for some time for employment to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.

In the Capital City areas, job advertisements for Skill Level 1 and 2 fell over the year, down by 6.6% and 4.2% respectively. This is indicative of a delayed recovery in recruitment activity for professional positions in the Capital Cities compared with the Rest of State areas.

Table 1: Recruitment activity by Skill Level group and region – January 2021. Source: National Skills Commission, Internet Vacancy Index, seasonally adjusted data, January 2021. 
Skill Level Number of job advertisements Annual change (%) Annual change (no.)
Regional      
Skill Level 1 - Bachelor degree or higher 13,300 17.1% 1,900
Skill Level 2 - Advanced Diploma or Diploma 5,000 41.2% 1,500
Skill Level 3 - Certificate IV or III* (Skilled VET) 7,700 37.5% 2,100
Skill Level 4 - Certificate II or III 14,200 45.0% 4,400
Skill Level 5 - Certificate I or secondary education 8,700 67.8% 3,500
Capital City      
Skill Level 1 - Bachelor degree or higher 47,400 -6.6% -3,300
Skill Level 2 - Advanced Diploma or Diploma 10,600 -4.2% -500
Skill Level 3 - Certificate IV or III* (Skilled VET) 16,000 13.7% 1,900
Skill Level 4 - Certificate II or III 32,600 6.0% 1,800
Skill Level 5 - Certificate I or secondary education 13,600 24.8% 2,700
Note: *Seasonally adjusted estimates at the regional level of detail are not currently released publicly and are available only upon request. **The sum of skill level group results may not match totals as seasonally adjusted data are non-additive.

The regional IVI can also be disaggregated by detailed occupation. As shown in Table 1, there are some differences in the occupations with the most vacancies between the Capital Cities and Rest of State areas. Four of the 10 occupations with the most job advertisements in the Rest of State Areas were also in the top 10 in the Capital Cities.

  • In particular, two ICT professional occupations, Software and Applications Programmers and ICT Business and Systems Analysts, have far more vacancies in Capital Cities than the Rest of State areas. These two occupations account for 5.7% of all vacancies in the Capital Cities, compared with just 0.7% in the Rest of State areas.
  • On the other hand, Registered Nurses and Aged and Disabled Carers account for 7.2% of vacancies in the Rest of State areas, compared with 3.7% in the Capital Cities.
Table 2: Top 10 IVI Occupations by Rest of State and Capital City areas. Source: National Skills Commission, Internet Vacancy Index, three month average of original data, January 2021
Regional Job advertisements Capital City Job advertisements
Sales Assistants (General) 2,400 General Clerks 5,500
General Clerks 2,300 Software and Applications Programmers 4,700
Registered Nurses 2,200 Sales Assistants (General) 4,500
Other Miscellaneous Labourers 1,300 Advertising and Sales Managers 3,500
Aged and Disabled Carers 1,200 Registered Nurses 3,000
Chefs 1,100 Construction Managers 2,200
Motor Mechanics 1,000 Other Miscellaneous Labourers 2,100
Waiters 840 Accountants 2,000
Metal Fitters and Machinists 830 ICT Business and Systems Analysts 2,000
Commercial Cleaners 800 Waiters 2,000

 

Table 3 outlines the occupations that have recorded the largest increase in job advertisements over the year to January 2021. Six occupations appeared in the top 10 largest increases in job advertisements in both Capital Cities and Regional areas.

Table 3: Top 10 increases in IVI Occupations over the year to January 2021 by Rest of State and Capital City areas. Source: National Skills Commission, Internet Vacancy Index, three month average of original data, January 2021.
Regional Job advertisements Capital City Job advertisements
Sales Assistants (General) 1,000 Registered Nurses 670
General Clerks 610 Waiters 630
Registered Nurses 600 Other Miscellaneous Labourers 460
Aged and Disabled Carers 430 Sales Assistants (General) 400
Waiters 400 Bar Attendants and Baristas 390
Commercial Cleaners 380 Storepersons 390
Chefs 370 Commercial Cleaners 370
Other Miscellaneous Labourers 360 Kitchenhands 360
Bar Attendants and Baristas 290 Cooks 360
Truck Drivers 280 Motor Mechanics 340

 

Regions

The IVI data can also be analysed across 37 regions across Australia. Over the year to January 2021, job ads increased in 36 of the 37 IVI regions. The largest increases in percentage terms were recorded in Dubbo and Western New South Wales (up by 81.0%) Southern Highlands and Snowy (up by 74.7%) and NSW North Coast (up by 69.6%). The top 3 regions that recorded the largest increase in the number of job advertisements were all Capital Cities, with Perth (up by 3,400) recording the largest increase, followed by Brisbane (up by 1,400) and Adelaide (up by 1,300).

Sydney was the only IVI region to record a fall in job advertisements over the year to January 2021, down by 4,800 (or 11.6%).

Map 1: Increase in IVI over the year to January 2021 (%). Source: National Skills Commission, Internet Vacancy Index, January 2021.
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Map 1: Increase in IVI over the year to January 2021 (%) shows a heat map of job ads across Australia in 37 regions. 36 regions recorded an increase except Sydney which had the only decrease.

In terms of more detailed occupation level data at the regional level, there were seven occupations that appeared in the top 10 advertised occupations in more than half of the 37 IVI regions:

  • General Clerks
  • Sales Assistants (General)
  • Registered Nurses
  • Other Miscellaneous Labourers
  • Motor Mechanics
  • Aged and Disabled Carers
  • Chefs

These occupations covered a broad range of skill levels, with four of the seven requiring at most a Certificate III.

Table 4: Occupations in the top 10 advertised occupations in the most IVI regions, January 2021. Source: National Skills Commission, Internet Vacancy Index, three month average of original data, January 2021.
Occupation Skill level Number of regions in top 10 advertised occupations
General Clerks 4 37
Sales Assistants (General) 5 37
Registered Nurses 1 35
Other Miscellaneous Labourers 5 34
Motor Mechanics 3 28
Aged and Disabled Carers 4 25
Chefs 2 20
Truck Drivers 4 18
Welfare, Recreation and Community Arts Workers 1 14
Metal Fitters and Machinists 3 11
Waiters 4 11
Commercial Cleaners 5 12
Cooks 3 9
Advertising and Sales Managers 1 8
Electricians 3 7

More information on vacancies can be found in on the Labour Market Information Portal.

Footnotes

[1] The IVI is based on a count of online job advertisements newly lodged on SEEK, CareerOne and Australian JobSearch during the reference month. As such, the IVI does not reflect the total number of job advertisements in the labour market as it does not include jobs advertised through other online job boards, employer websites, word of mouth, in newspapers and advertisements in shop windows. The IVI also does not take into account of multiple positions being advertised in a single job advertisement.

[2] Each of the three jobs boards that are include in the IVI data use different regions. The National Skills Commission has created 37 regions that are able to combine data from these jobs boards into a single geographical structure while also providing meaningful boundaries for regional analysis.