Considerations When Making Australia Part of Your Global Recruitment Portfolio

Aaron McIntosh, General Manager at Bullhorn.

Australia is not like any other recruitment market in the APAC region. It is a market where 

success often comes amid complex circumstances – so it is heartening that the region is doing so well, and it presents a good case study for the wider area. Embracing technology has clearly been beneficial, but there are other factors to consider to ensure success in the market.

Recruiters wanting to tap into the Australian market are well-advised to do their homework first. Immigration policies, global competition, digital transformation and skills shortages are all dynamics that would-be entrants need to contend with. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to deal with each.  

An increase in global competition 

The ongoing trade complexity between the US and China might look like standard political theatre between two political strongmen, but it is influencing wider global markets. 

A recent PwC report reveals that Chinese firms are interested in investing more in the APAC region, and that Australia is a particularly high-value target. The report also states that 21 percent of Chinese CEOs believe Australia is important for their companies’ growth, where America’s stock has fallen – at least in Chinese opinion – from 59 percent to 17 percent.

The headline news here for APAC recruiters is that Chinese business interests will need local talent to establish themselves and thrive in the country. There is a clear chance for these recruiters to expand their client bases while showcasing their superior abilities to source in-demand talent in this intensely competitive region. 

Skills shortages 

Skills shortages are an endemic problem for the recruitment industry. A shortage in available key skills has gone from one of the top five challenges of 2018 to one of the top three in 2019. Clients want a very particular set of skills for a very particular suite of digital, IT and white-collar roles, and shallow talent pools are getting in the way of them realising their objectives. Recruiters need to keep pace with this demand. 

Having good contacts in the cyber security space, for example, is increasingly invaluable: specialists are in demand across all businesses as breaches and attacks become more frequent and increasingly dangerous. A shortage of tech skills also suggests a dearth of growth in countries with developing and stagnating economies alike: absent the necessary talent, they will inevitably fall behind their global competition. 

Recruiters therefore need to think innovatively, and with a view to developing comprehensive candidate management policies, particularly when it comes to passive talent that isn’t directly looking for new employment. For example, consider reskilling programs to equip workers for new job requirements Build and manage strong, exhaustive internal databases so you can access the skills your clients need, whenever they need them. 

Immigration policies 

When you are entering the APAC region, you will want to think about expanding the traditional scope of what you are looking for. Attitudes towards immigration are shifting, and it is having knock-on effects all over the region: according to Bullhorn’s Global Recruitment Insights Data (GRID), 31 percent of recruitment CEOs in APAC fear restrictions on foreign labour – and the degree to which these restrictions will affect their ability to bring top-tier talent to clients.

In countries like Australia, which uses a points-based system that has occasionally been regarded as unduly punitive, global talent mobility could well decrease over the next few years. In critical fields like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, it is becoming harder to attract foreign talent due to the end of the 457 visa scheme. It is an unfortunate contrast with the example of Japan, which is opening up more to foreign workers in an attempt to close more gaps in the workforce. 

The country is in serious need of local talent, to be sure, and reskilling and upskilling professionals who do not need a work permit or a visa will be paramount, as will diverse hiring practices – an eye for the uncommon or unusual hire will serve a recruiter well in most circumstances, and especially so here. But taking a wider view will also serve you well if you aim to get the most out of your operations in the region. Focusing on Australian hires makes sense, but to the extent that you can, it is also worth working with global recruitment partners. 

Digital transformation

Embracing digital transformation is virtually compulsory to ensure success. By using automation and data-driven technologies, agencies can enhance their competitive advantage in both new and familiar markets. Early indications are that recruiters are indeed pursuing digital transformation initiatives – a tendency confirmed by Bullhorn’s latest survey. 

Figures from our GRID survey reveal that more than half (58 percent) of respondents indicated that their agency’s technology investments would increase in the next year. A vast majority (91 percent) believe the successful adoption of new, sophisticated technologies is crucial to remaining competitive.

In fact, tools that use AI to gain talent and workflow insights and automate admin-intensive processes such as scheduling, will make entry to the Australian market that much easier.

The preceding dynamics may seem challenging at first, but the Australian recruitment industry holds great opportunities for savvy recruiters. However, only consultants who are willing to embrace new technology and apply diverse hiring practices will truly reap the benefits.  

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