Employer sentiment down

Hiring intentions in the mining sector are set to experience a significant slump in the new year, according to new employment data released today.

Employers in the mining and construction sector reported an 8 percentage point drop to a net employment outlook of 0 per cent for quarter one of 2013.

Manpower Group surveyed over 2,200 Australian employers’ hiring intentions for the coming quarter and found that 19 per cent of employers in the mining and construction sector plan to increase hiring for the first quarter of 2013, while 22 per cent plan to decrease.

The resulting 0 per cent net outlook is the lowest reported forecast the sector has seen since 2009, the company said.

Lincoln Crawley, Managing Director of Manpower Group attributed the slump to falling commodity prices and the high Australian dollar.

“The mining and construction sector is suffering from declining demand amid lower prices for commodities such as iron ore and coal, and the continued resilience of the Aussie dollar,” he said.

Crawley added that the company is however seeing small pockets of demand and job growth in the industry and expects the theme of a “multi-speed speed labour market to continue next year”.

“While jobs in resources are down overall, the oil and gas industry remains strong, with an expanding pipeline of projects that will drive demand for workers throughout 2013.

"Recent figures from the Queensland Minerals Council bear this out: while 5,000 coal jobs were lost in the state, 7,000 coal seam gas jobs were created in the first half of 2012,” Crawley said.

Australia’s coal miners have been hit hard this year, Australian mining has reported extensive job losses in the industry including 40 jobs cut at Anglo American’s Dawson coal mine, 35 at their Capcoal Grass Tree operations and another 50 jobs from its Moranbah North mine.

In September Xstrata announced they would slash 600 jobs across its coal operations.

Rio shut its Blair Athol coal mine earlier this month and BHP also closed their Gregory coal mine in October.

It has been reported that more than 5000 jobs have already been shed in Queensland and it is expected both the NSW and Queensland coal sectors are set to endure more turmoil in the coming year.

Although Crawley is adamant that skilled workers will remain highly sought after and said that finding experienced geoscience professionals and mine engineers continues to be tough.

“As always, skilled trade workers and engineers are still in high demand, including mechanical fitters, sheet metal workers, electricians and a range of roles that work in resources sector construction.”

According to the survey, nationally Australia’s net employment outlook continues to hover at 8 per cent, a total of six percentage points weaker then this time last year, albeit unchanged in the last two quarters.

Crawley believes this indicates a slowdown in employer sentiment which could be here to stay.

“What we had hoped was a short-term dip in the jobs market may in fact be the ‘new norm’. With the exception of Victoria and Tasmania, the outlook in each state and territory has fallen,” he said.

Crawley warned employers should not become complacent about their workforce planning in 2013 as shortages still exist for certain skills.

“It’s important for employers to continue to invest in internal training and development programs in order to build the talent they have and attract and retain the talent they will need to be successful in 2013,” he said.

Net Employment Outlook comparison by industry:

  Q1 2013 Quarter-on-quarter
National +8% 0% -6%
Mining &
0% -8% -23%
Manufacturing +3% +3% -3%
Transport & Utilities +16% +5% +4%

Table source: Manpower Group

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