Company growth has helped to increase candidate confidence and therefore supply in Australia’s cleaning market, but not necessarily where employers demand it says Shane Little, Hays Facilities Management regional director.
An active recruitment market has been a key feature of 2011 so far, with a number of cleaning companies going through a period of rapid growth. These employers have a particular focus on securing permanent staff as new contracts have been awarded and as employers create new roles to bolster teams.
This permanent activity follows a rise in temporary recruiting, where candidates were employed for initial short-term periods while contracts were negotiated. A number of firms looking to cover staff shortages have also increased their use of temporary staff as contracts near completion dates.
At the same time, candidate levels have risen. As well as the traditional mentality of seeking a new role in a New Year, more people are now far more confident in the market’s ability to present them with a solid career-advancing opportunity.
But despite this rise, the demand for certain specialist skills is not being met. We have seen an increase in the number of lower level candidates seeking a higher level role that they are not suitable for. There has also been an increase in the number of candidates without experience applying for vacancies.
There’s no doubt that we’re very quickly returning to a state of a shortage of specialist skills, and will continue in this direction as more organisations experience growth.
In most demand are area and operations managers since many cleaning companies are going through rapid growth and have promoted internally. Given this growth, many employers are now at the point where they are unable to promote from within any further. Thus area and operations managers with senior skill sets are in high demand to strengthen the middle management of companies experiencing such rapid growth.
Any other skills in demand/short supply?
Placing further pressure on the candidate-tight market has been the increased need for technical candidates in remote areas of our resource-rich states. These vacancies offer high salaries and consequently attract people from the market and reduce the available candidate pool for all other locations.
Yet this trend is not unique to building services. The resources boom will reshape the whole labour market as employers and the government scramble to find solutions to the impending skills crisis. Multiple resources projects combined with large-scale oil and gas projects are expected to see the shortage of skills reach a height never before seen in Australia. It will also extend far beyond engineering talent. The whole resources chain, from exploration right through to construction, fabrication and exporting is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers and this will filter through to impact all industries right across Australia.
A variety of strategies are being employed in an attempt to overcome skills shortages. Some employers in building services are speeding up their recruitment process, while others are offering higher than expected salaries. Others are relying on a quick turnaround. In general, more employers are requesting recruitment agency assistance.
The utilisation of temporary staff as a short-term solution (between three and six months) is also common.
There have also been cases of employers considering overseas relocation and sponsorship, although they typically still have a preference for candidates local to where they are based – be it Darwin or Sydney.
Another trend has been the increase in temporary-to-permanent recruitment. Some employers seek candidates that will start on a contract basis, and who would be happy to commit to a longer-term opportunity down the track; they are in essence testing a candidate in a role before committing to a permanent hire.
We also expect to see the return of the counter offer later in the year. Employers are expected to dig deep to retain their top talent in the face of a tightening candidate market.
According to our last Hays Salary Guide, 40 percent of organisations counter offer departing staff, but two-thirds of employees still leave within 12 months. This is because a successful counter offer involves more than just money – employers need to make sure they address the underlying issue of why their employee decided to look for a new job in the first place.