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Job vacancies up in 2021 but fewer takers

Talk of The Big Quit might be in vogue but the latest analysis of Australia’s job market reveals mass resignations triggered by the COVID pandemic haven’t eventuated.

This year’s employment landscape features three key elements, according to careers specialist SEEK: record-breaking job ad numbers, the lowest ever number of applications per ad, and the impact of lockdown.

While COVID restrictions across the states and territories over the past 12 months have resulted in some fluctuation in ads, data indicates the overall trend has been one of steady increase nationally.

October and November were stand-outs, with consecutive record highs.

Applications, on the other hand, reached record lows in May and have declined further to November, the 2021 SEEK Employment Report shows.

The job postings site says this has been driven not only by the increasing ad numbers but a smaller talent pool and a nation of workers more conscious of job security than ever before.

It says the latter is responsible for 31 per cent of Australians holding back from changing jobs.

Unsurprisingly, the report found the industries hardest hit by lockdowns and with the most fluctuation in job ads were those in client and customer facing disciplines.

As NSW and Victoria further emerged from restrictions in November, the sector showing the most growth year-on-year as at November 2021 was hospitality and tourism (up 76.3 per cent).

Healthcare and medical was second (up 40.4 per cent) and trades and services third (up 34.9 per cent).

SEEK managing director Kendra Banks says 2021 welcomed a number of record-breaking highs nationally.

“Each state and territory recorded the highest number of ads within a month at one stage during the year, some multiple times, with multiple industries experiencing their own highest levels in SEEK history,” she said.

“With such phenomenal demand for talent, the number of applications per job ad were no match and we saw a continued decline in applications from May to November.”

Even so, there are encouraging signs.

While The Great Resignation is yet to materialise, Ms Banks says candidate sentiment surveys conducted in January and April predict almost a third of Australians will look to change jobs in the next six months.

“So we will be anticipating movement there in 2022,” she said.

“Furthermore, we expect demand for candidates to remain high as businesses attempt to secure themselves some long sought-after new talent in 2022.”

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