A slight jump, but employment in transport still weak

Small increase in the number of transport operators likely to hire more people in the coming months

By Brad Gardner | June 15, 2011

A small increase in the number of transport operators likely to hire more staff in the coming months has failed to translate into longer-term gains.

The latest Manpower employment survey shows 32 percent of companies within the transport and utilities sector are expecting to increase headcount in the third quarter – an 11 percent increase over the last quarter.

Another 6 percent are expecting to reduce their number of employees, with the majority of those surveyed tipping no change.

While Manpower Managing Director Lincoln Crawley says seasonal demand – such as the onset of the Christmas period – will drive the increase, the survey shows year-over-year hiring intentions have fallen by four percent.

"Hiring prospects are considerably stronger quarter-over-quarter, but slightly weaker year-over-year," the survey says.

Crawley says the transport and utilities sector typically picks up in the latter part of the year, adding that many companies servicing the resources sector contributed to the increase in hiring expectations.

"Transport and logistics are strongly linked to mining and resource activities, so the boom in one sector inevitably flows on to positive employment in the other," he says.

Despite the decline in hiring expectations over a year-long period, Crawley says skills shortages are rife across the sector. He says there is consistently high demand for entry level positions for truck drivers, forklift operators and store people.

However, he says filling senior management roles is one of the biggest concerns.

"Staff turnover is high in this sector and companies have traditionally not invested enough in training and development to create a stable pipeline of talent that can feed into senior positions. This needs to be a key focus in future," he says.

The survey, which quizzed 2,248 Australian employers, found that most (64 percent) predicted no change in workforce numbers.

Only 26 percent expected to increase headcount, with 9 percent anticipating a decrease.

The net employment outlook of 17 percent – the difference between those expecting to hire and those expecting to decrease the number of employees –is six percent lower than the previous quarter and four percent lower than the same time last year.

The figures slightly improve when seasonally adjusted.

"Quarter-over-quarter, the Outlook declines by two percentage points, while year-over-year, it is five percentage points weaker," the survey reads.

According to the findings, West Australian employers showed the most optimistic hiring prospects for the third quarter, with NSW and Victoria reporting stronger gains.

"The one region with a negative Net Employment Outlook is Tasmania, while the most optimistic hiring plans are reported in Western Australia and Northern Territory," the survey says.

Queensland suffered a 10 percent decline based on year-over-year figures, while hiring prospects for West Australian businesses fell by 8 percent.

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