With pressures including inflation, cost of living and skills shortages, the way Australians work is set for a shakeup in 2024. But to what extent?
The labour market looks set to cool in 2024, with successive interest rate rises starting to weigh on employment growth. As the heat in the market dissipates, Matt Cowgill, SEEK Senior Economist, says the big question that is front of mind for most economists is whether we will achieve the soft landing many expect, or are we in for something bumpier? And what impact will this outlook have on one key COVID-era employment trend in particular?
“Currently all signs point to a soft landing for the Australian market,” Cowgill says, “but with that there will likely be a rise in unemployment over the next twelve months.
“As the market cools and unemployment rises, the power balance that sat with the workers during the Great Job Boom of 21/22 will continue to reverse itself. Employers with greater bargaining power will be more able to dictate the terms of employment.”
So could WFH be a casualty of the market slowdown? Nothing in SEEK’s data points to this. SEEK’s job ads data shows that 10% of all ads on SEEK indicate the role can be done from home, down only marginally from 11% last year.
“Two years on from Australia’s last lockdown and one in ten job ads on SEEK indicate some sort of flexible working option. SEEK data shows that WFH is sticking around.”
Relevance and personalisation the great differentiator
Kendra Banks, SEEK Managing Director ANZ, underscores the evolving landscape of big tech, data privacy and security as a critical focus for many Australian organisations. As Google’s cookies are rolled back, businesses who rely on third-party data may soon find themselves in the dark about their customer-base. Those who hold robust, and robustly protected, customer insights will be able to differentiate their offerings ahead of their competitors.
Kendra points to SEEK’s AI-driven innovations, such as promoting top applicants or profile-based job matches that deliver a more personalised job-seeking experience, leading to better outcomes for hirers and candidates alike.
“Looking for a new job, or hiring a new employee, can be one of the most important life decisions we make,” says SEEK Managing Director ANZ Kendra Banks, “and relevance is crucial to the process.”
“When candidates receive relevant matches to their search, and hirers are delivered qualified applicants, perhaps outside of what they expected, the whole process becomes more efficient and more seamless for everyone.”
Skills Passports to support labour market efficiency
2024 will bring a renewed focus on how skills passports can support a more dynamic and efficient labour market, according to SEEK Head of Government Relations and Economics Kadi Taylor.
One of the key outcomes of the Australian Government’s Employment White Paper was a process to consult on a National Skills Passport. Taylor suggests that the primary and most immediate role for Government in this process is to set frameworks for a way for all credentials – including formal qualifications, micro credentials and employment-related credentials – to be understandable, digitised, shareable and verifiable.
THE TRENDS THAT WILL SHAPE THE WAY WE WORK IN 2024 “To realise the full potential of skills passports – for the economy, individuals and for employers – government and the private sector must play to their strengths,” Taylor states. “Government, with its unique position to set standards and act as enablers. The private sector, with its deep integration into recruitment processes and the labour market, provides the visible user experience layer for jobseekers and employers.
“The core problem to be solved by government on this issue is the setting of standards for micro-credentials – where they are not delivered by an accredited higher education or training provider,” Taylor says. “This would support more efficient matching of skilled workers with the available job opportunities and help minimise the skills gap.”
Redefining career development
The pandemic highlighted the importance of work-life balance, with SEEK’s Laws of Attraction data revealing that work-life balance is now considered twice as important to workers compared to career development1 when looking to attract new people into your organisation. In particular, flexibility is the key thing they are looking for.
However, once you have those people within your organisation, and in order to foster an engaged and flexible workplace in 2024, the data shows that organisations are best placed to focus on supporting career development that builds cross-functional skills, and career diversity, says SEEK Chief People & Culture Officer, Kathleen McCudden. People still want career progression, but it looks a bit different today. With on-the-job skill development/coaching being the number one requirement.
“The aspiration for an increasing number of Australians seeking professional development is less about an ‘end-goal role’, and more about the desire for autonomy or flexibility that allows for fulfilment and optimal work-life balance,” McCudden says.
While each expert is approaching 2024 from a slightly different angle, uniting their perspectives is a focus on the large external forces that have the potential to vastly alter the way we work; from rising unemployment levels to government policy and changes in Big Tech, to the way we approach our long-term career goals.