Oz exodus: Job vacancies dwindle

By Kieran Campbell, Hana Garrett-Walker

Paul Spoonley. Photo / Richard Robinson
Paul Spoonley. Photo / Richard Robinson

Job vacancies in Australia may be dwindling but the economic situation there doesn't appear to be stopping New Zealanders from taking their chances in search of a better life.

Recruitment agencies say Kiwis are now being more thorough in researching their options before heading over without having a job lined up.

Job vacancies in Australia have steadily decreased since late 2010 and by November had fallen a further 2.2 per cent in one quarter.

Massey University sociologist Professor Paul Spoonley said that last year a record 53,800 New Zealanders moved to Australia, despite the number of available jobs beginning to decrease in areas New Zealanders traditionally flocked to, such as Sydney and Brisbane.

It had been predicted that labour demand would increase in New Zealand and the numbers moving to Australia would lessen.

However, neither prediction had eventuated, Professor Spoonley said.

"There are clearly additional factors that are encouraging ongoing migration - the fact that the centre of gravity for families is often now across the Ditch which encourages further migration, that there is a perception that the Australian labour market is still more robust ... and there is a lack of confidence that there are opportunities in New Zealand."

Kinetic recruitment agency team leader Michelle Batchelor said New Zealanders were still steadily moving to Australia but were becoming more cautious.

"They put their feelers out, and they get a lot more information now in terms of the location. What's happened is they're still wanting to move, they're just being a lot more cautious about it."

Job-seekers were also often applying for many jobs, aware that the market was thinning out and bosses could be more selective.

But Bede Ashby of Momentum recruitment agency pointed out that Australia was a country of more than 21 million people, "so even if their employment intentions are decreasing there's still a hell of a lot of opportunity".

"I don't think something like the fact that Australia might be slowing down a little bit is going to stop people necessarily looking over the Ditch for alternative employment."

Justin Pipe at Madison Recruitment said New Zealanders were still heading to main centres on Australia's east coast, despite the mining boom in Western Australia drawing workers there over the past decade.

"People's decisions to choose which area of Australia they go to is quite varied, and that's to do with family ties and employment opportunities.

"I think a lot of the young people typically would want the buzz of the city life, and maybe the slightly older job seekers it's more about the employment opportunity and potentially the family ties."

However, he did think there was more hesitation now about moving to Australia.

"There's definitely caution in terms of Australia, but people still see it as a land of opportunity and the lucky country - it's still got that name."

And Professor Spoonley said it would take "significant changes" in the relevant labour demand, and unemployment figures, between Australia and New Zealand for a change to happen any time soon.

Job hunt

* 169,900 job vacancies in Australia, Nov 2012
* 2.2 per cent decline since August 2012

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Read more:

Oz exodus: Rules rob Kiwis of social aid
Flying Kiwis unfazed by lack of welfare across the Ditch
Residency hard to get


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