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No longer new year: Is there still time for jobseekers this first quarter?

By Michelle Foote | February 23, 2022
Teacher with mature adult students
Teacher With Group Of Mature Adult Students In Class Working At Computers In College Library

The job market in Australia is known to dwindle to slim pickings in December, only to accelerate again in January as all those new year’s resolutions kick into gear on both sides of the fence; employers put their yearly business plans into effect and take on new staff to make those plans a reality, while workers seek out ways to reignite their career, spur on their engagement levels and, perhaps, increase their earnings. The atmosphere is one of energy and optimism, revitalised by the holiday period.

The numbers back up this trend as we advance into 2022. In fact, recently published figures indicating that even in a pandemic, job ad placements grew by 97.2% in information and communication technology; 76.7% in trades and services; and 45.2% in healthcare and medical. Both the government and business are keeping an eye on employment numbers within industries hit hardest by the ‘COVID-19 years’, but figures from the same SEEK report show growth across multiple sectors: surprisingly the hospitality and tourism industry has experienced national job-advertisement growth of more than 25% (particularly, up to 72% in the ACT); while retail growth is solid, even in the most severely affected states such as NSW (40.4% growth).

Into the first quarter

So, as we move a little further into 2022, have potential jobseekers missed the boat? Not by any means. But they shouldn’t wait much longer.

Remember, January is a boom month for employers and employees, which means employers have access to the largest pool of talent of the year, too. As jobs land in the jobsphere, so do jobseekers.

According to data presented last year, February runs second to January’s boom market, with two-thirds of the previous month’s job advertisement figures. Then, March sits right on the annual average before the traditional dip in April that is known to result from the holiday period. Figures then generally sit below the mean level until the new financial year, experiencing growth again from July once company budgets are freshly pumped full again.

So jobseekers need to get moving.

With the average amount of time taken to land a job in Australia sitting at 82 days, this may be the best time to engage a little extra help in the form of jobseeking agencies, whether in the private or government arenas, to expedite the application process and improve their chance of success through further education or training. This is especially important for people in sectors of the jobseeking population who may already face traditionally lower employment uptake, such as those from a non-English speaking background, or jobseekers over the age of 45.

The mature-age jobseeker

When looking at the odds of re-employment, this part of the job market faces a reported decrease by 2.6% every year a jobseeker increases in age, according to psychology academics in the UK. Other factors that have been shown to decrease competitiveness in the job market for mature-age jobseekers include not just (real or perceived) age discrimination, but also a lack of updated skills, career changing, re-entering the workforce after raising a family, or scaling back the intensity of one’s career. There is also a factor of motivation loss in older jobseekers who may feel self conscious surrounding their unemployed status.

There are a number of government-sanctioned pathways to employment assistance that mature-aged jobseekers can take to become more competitive in their local labour market. Combining education programs with job-assistance programs is shown to increase this sector’s success markedly, and can fast-track a job application, especially when time is of the essence.

Whether directly or via Services Australia, mature-aged jobseekers can begin by making use of one of the following:

  • The jobactive website and app, based around the Australian government’s jobs board, managed by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Through here, jobseekers can access free sessions with qualified career advisors or online learning modules, among other informative services;
  • The New Employment Services Trial (NEST), ready to roll out nationally later this year, which focuses on bringing digital-ready jobseekers more effectively to employment opportunities;
  • Online Employment Services (OES), the Federal government’s main online employment platform, built during the pandemic to streamline job search reporting and management; or
  • Volunteer Online Employment Services Trial (VOEST), a pathway to fatten up one’s skillset before moving back into the paid sector.

This is not the end of the path, either. Each of these four providers or services can then refer a mature-aged jobseeker to the Career Transition Assistance (CTA) program, specifically designed to help this cohort. A CTA provider meets with and assesses the candidate so that a program can be tailored to their needs. Practical support could look like upskilling in computers, tablets and smartphones, or workplace technology and software; identifying existing skills and transferrable talents to widen one’s range of employability; applying and following up applications appropriately, and understanding correctly targeting sectors of the job market to suit a jobseeker’s one skillset and experience.

Navitas Skilled Futures is one of NSW’s top providers of the Career Transition Assistance program. As part of the program, participants will learn how to/about:

  • Meet potential employers
  • Learn from guest speakers from a range of industries
  • Attend workplace excursions
  • Use digital technology at work
  • Build on existing skills and develop additional skills
  • Prepare that winning resume
  • Get ready for job interviews
  • Communicate in your new workplace
  • Apply for jobs that match your skills

Students of the CTA program come from all walks of life. For example, the CTA program recently helped one man who had experienced nine months of unemployment. Anthony told his Facilitator that his last job involved working in a restaurant that had poor working conditions and many health and safety issues, and as a result, was very keen to secure more suitable employment.

In his initial meeting, Anthony indicated that he would like assistance with job searching and submitting applications, as well as continuing building on his digital skills which he felt had improved significantly over the few months leading up to the CTA course.

Anthony was able to work with his Facilitator during his time in the course on the above tasks and, as a result, was able to put himself forward for a number of roles. Due to his persistence and commitment in putting himself out there using the different techniques discussed in his course such as cold calling, online applications and networking via LinkedIn, Anthony was able to secure a role working as a Chef in a local Leagues’ Club.

In his first post-course follow up (four weeks), Anthony advised he was extremely happy with his new role as he obtained a significant pay rise ($30k more than his previous role) and he was working under appropriate conditions with an excellent Manager.

Timing that suits best

Considering the assistance programs available to enable all parts of the potential working public to get better and more engaging employment, suddenly the mad scramble and high competition of January tends to compare less favourably with a more measured approach from February. Well-planned support, education and upskilling can well form a more stable pathway for those who find it more difficult to achieve jobseeking success at first flush.

Choosing the right provider for your Career Transition Program makes a huge difference in employment outcomes. Navitas Skilled Futures has supported over 300,000 people in the last 30 years to work towards their own personal goals and boasts outstanding client outcomes.

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