The ties between South African and Australian economies


Australia and South Africa are both exporting and importing talent between the two countries to combat shortages in industries such as IT, mining, construction and renewable energy. "Engineering and IT is where Australia and SA Manpower have strong links and where we are currently supplying staff - especially in Queensland and Western Australia,' says Maxeen Bremer of Manpower South Africa.

However, according to Australia?s employment outlook for 2012 employment looks more stable compared to South Africa and forecasts that 23% of employers are planning to increase hiring while only 10% are looking at cutting back. South Africa?s outlook for Q2 2012 is that 9% of employers are looking to decrease hiring with the same figure looking to increase employment. When seasonally adjusted,
Australia?s net outlook is still positive at 13% compared to South Africa?s -2% but South Africa has only dropped 5% year on year compared to Australia?s drop of 9%.

The on-going skills shortage, which is being felt around the world, is also contributing to the "brain drain? from South Africa. Much of the emigration of professionals felt by South Africa is due to a need for skilled individuals in other countries, particularly Australia and the UK. The demand for skilled labourers in the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia has led to active recruitment programs by those countries in South Africa. These countries accounted for 75% (by volume) of overseas placements of native South Africans.

Australians and South Africans live in very similar climatic conditions making the adaption to a new living place easier to adapt to and work in. Similar interests such as sport and food means that a healthy work/life balance is easy to maintain, an important aspect to ensuring that employees remain positive and motivated. Many individuals who move to regions with vastly different climates often suffer from negative effects such as depression, specifically for those moving from a predominantly warm and sunny climate such as South Africa to a colder one such as England.

However the increased economic sluggishness is meaning leaner pickings for many positions in Australia, while others are finding skills shortfalls. This is resulting in less demand and contributing to some of the return traffic of expats from Australia to South Africa.

Most countries are expecting relatively positive results for the 2nd quarter, including countries that have close economic ties with South Africa. Which means that South Africa should in fact be relatively positive in relation to it close tied partners.

Australia is expecting employment to rise by 13% in the second quarter of 2012. Despite Australians also feeling like times are tough regarding employment, plenty of employers are still hiring and skills shortages continue to bite. The enthusiasm seen at the end of the downturn has been tempered since mid-last-year, as the Eurozone crisis and a sluggish U.S. recovery created uncertainty. In addition, the decline in exports and strong Australian dollar is hurting industrial employers and impacting their ability to hire.

Australia experienced the same effects as South Africa on their manufacturing sector where for the third consecutive quarter, hiring expectations were weakest among employers in the industry sector at +4%. However their Net Employment Outlook for Wholesale and Retail Trade was almost half the national average, at +7%, Whereas South Africa?s Wholesale and Retail Trade was one of the best performing industries with regards to employment forecasts.

By contrast, employer optimism in the Transportation and Utilities sector for Australia grew stronger, jumping 7 percentage points to +19%, and making it the only industry to record year-on-year growth where it declined by 3 percentage points in South Africa. The Mining and Construction sector Outlook rose 3 percentage points in both Australia and South Africa to +23% and +8% respectively, showing improvement in both countries? need for skills in the industry.

It?s an unusual situation where countries around the world are experiencing skills shortages, but at the same time are cutting back in many sectors. This is resulting in many expatriates returning home due to the job cuts but many more being in demand not only in their home country but in many countries simultaneously.

"Employers in hot industries, who continue to struggle with skills shortages, may need to reassess their job criteria and look for a "teachable fit? - that is, candidates who meet most criteria but need further training in other areas. This is particularly relevant for candidates coming from other industries, who have the fundamental skills but require specific training to fill the gaps.

Job seekers should also take heart from these results - as long as they?re open to changing direction, there are plenty of flourishing industry sectors and job families, especially if they are willing to learn new skills and adapt to a different environment,' concludes Lyndy Boland, acting Managing Director of Manpower Group South Africa.