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Australia’s Labour Problem - December 2021

The extended closure of international borders is edging up wage costs for large financial institutions which have made it increasingly difficult for large banks to poach staff with digital skills from consulting firms – a traditional source of recruitment. Employers are being forced to maintain flexible work practices into next year to ensure workers stay on board in response to the tightness of the labour market for digitally savvy staff. Westpac CFO Rowland has mentioned that big consulting firms typically supplied banks with quality staff but their lack of intake into the Sydney and Melbourne offices from the pandemic have dried up the stream for banks. There is existing pressure to keep highly competent staff happy to maintain flexible working conditions with banks moving to significantly reduce their footprints in CBDs and reducing floor space in city locations as fewer staff will return permanently.


However, payroll jobs across the board have surged in October – reversing the 330,000 person fall in employment during recent lockdowns by the end of this month. Employment numbers surged 3.1% over October with the strongest gains in NSW – up 5.7% and Victoria – up 4%. Sharp rebound from the end of lockdown restrictions and significant stimulus has created strong momentum from the economy that has created an optimistic mood among businesses and a willingness to invest. Labour demand indicators such as job ads are very strong, indicating unemployment rates will be quick to resume its pre-lockdown trend.



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