Oz job scene looking up

By Gill South

More business-friendly Govt and a banking upturn boost kiwi employment hopes

Australia is again offering hope for New Zealand job hunters.
Australia is again offering hope for New Zealand job hunters.

The Australian job market is looking up after a desired election result for the business community and with banks once again making big profits.

"There was a lot of uncertainty prior to [the] election," says James Dalrymple, Auckland director for recruitment agency Robert Walters.

"Tony Abbott is seen as more pro-business. His election has given ... business more confidence."

Dalrymple, who used to head the IT division of the agency's Melbourne office, says even organisations making large profits were holding back, but are now starting to go ahead.

The Australian economy is tipped to be stable but unspectacular for the next 12 months, with growth in certain areas, he says.

With this more optimistic economic scene, New Zealand job hunters have reason to hope for jobs in the finance, accounting and IT sectors as well as sales and marketing. The government sector is still quiet but redundancies are not expected.

Melbourne and Sydney are still relatively strong job markets, but the market in Perth has faded with the end of the mining boom.

"Less money [is] being invested in new projects - but the mining economy is still huge, and oil and gas are still huge," says the Auckland director.

As a result of the mining slowdown and consolidation in Perth and Queensland there is less work, particularly for blue-collar workers, but a lot of project-focused white collar roles, most of these in technology.

"There will still be strong demand for experienced IT people in Australia," says Dalrymple.

The IT positions in demand are project managers and good, strong business analysts, people with five-plus years' experience, he says. There are vacancies for developers and business intelligence is "quite hot".

The challenge for Kiwis going to Australia to work in IT or other sectors is that the organisations they have worked for are not that recognisable to Australian employers unless they are the big brands such as Fonterra or Telecom, he says.

The two biggest job markets in Australia - Sydney, the home of financial services, and Melbourne, where employment is more based around commerce and industry - are both fairly stable job markets at the moment. Canberra, where the government jobs are, has not had a lot of growth. However Brisbane, strong in mining, oil and gas, tourism and government, is starting to pick up.

Robert Walters' Melbourne office says any strong professionals with banking, accounting, IT, sales and marketing with a good five years' commercial experience have a good chance of finding a job in Australia.

In the third quarter of this year, both finance and accounting contract and permanent hiring levels rose in Melbourne. Financial and regulatory reporting candidates were in demand due to a major drive from banks to boost controllership functions.

Sydney's financial services sector is seeing a healthy pick-up after a couple of years cutting costs and banks back to making good profits.

According to Robert Walters, Sydney, there was a slight increase in the number of available roles in banking and financial services in the city in the third quarter, which saw a more positive market sentiment developing as well as a number of projects triggering the hiring of staff. Corporate restructuring, programmes to tackle changes in regulatory requirements and operational improvements and structural changes in particular, meant wealth managers and project accountants were in high demand from the retail banks.

Companies are looking for relationship bankers with more than four years' experience, says Dalrymple. Workers with expertise around risk are particularly in demand, with experience in compliance and regulatory affairs.

As for the areas of sales and marketing - companies are hiring in this area, he says. "It's tough to find good sales people, and that's no different in Australia. Good sales people with strong track records will have no trouble. The area of IT sales is strong, especially in the IT digital media growth area."

Marketing, on the other hand, is one of those areas which have been squeezed during cost-cutting by corporates and is not expected to be as bullish.

With generally encouraging news about the Australian employment market, increasing numbers of Kiwis may look at trying their luck across the ditch, but there is a right way for Kiwis to approach the Australian job market, warns Dalrymple.

"I recommend going over there if people can - commit to going there, take the plunge and move, but do your due diligence beforehand. If you have got the confidence to go over there you will pick something up," says Dalrymple.

As for pay, there is not the disparity in salaries between New Zealand and Australia there was, especially with the NZ dollar improving against the Australian. On average Australian salaries are about 10 per cent ahead of their NZ counterparts.

- NZ Herald

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