Experienced recruiters say Queensland employers should brace themselves for a wages blow out.
Access to the global talent pool had dried up and there was far less movement between states to satisfy demand, particularly in regional areas said Director of RatesCalc, Col Levander.
Mr Levander has 30 years recruitment experience in the Asia-Pacific.
He now heads up software company RatesCalc.com which offers quoting and compliance solutions for labour hire, recruitment, group-training companies and other service-based industries supporting resources and infrastructure.
Higher job-seeker payments were also keeping many prospective workers at home while infrastructure was being pump-primed by government incentives and mining continued unabated, he said.
Securing good people, especially in trades, had always been an issue but this was a perfect storm currently hitting Western Australia and now affecting the east coast, he said.
“Number one, borders are closed, and access to talent from overseas and in some cases interstate, COVID and other restrictions, are really the unknowns of that,” he said.
“That’s fuelled fundamentally what’s happening in WA because the buoyancy of the resources boom cooled, and many of the guys moved back home to the east coast.
“Less hi-vis shirts on flights over to Perth resulted in everyone coming back home and staying.”
Demand for labour was booming in the eastern states, said Mr Levander.
“Look at the explosion of renewable energy. Take Rodd’s Bay near Gladstone, that’s a big solar farm. There are 600 – 700 employees required to man that project.
“These remote projects are absolutely having a significant impact on labour markets and talent pools. Metro and even regional sources are not immune to the impact.
You can understand that people are going to go where the money is. And then of course they’re being attracted to those types of projects.”
Job hopping, where workers chased money on projects was becoming more common and employers could expect more churn said Mr Levander.
“Where I live on the Sunshine coast a joint venture between Fulton Hogan and Seymour Whyte (now Vinci) are doing the next section of the Bruce Highway upgrade at Caloundra.”
“They had more than 600 people on that job. Now, the Sunshine Coast Airport expansion, as soon as that kicked in, paid higher wages.
“Guess where the blokes went? All over there. And then they’ve struggled to maintain the labour on that road job.
“And that’s always been the case in projects. Guys will go where the high paid money is, and you can’t really blame them.”
The signs were positive for 2021, Mr Levander said.
“Many of our clients are recruitment companies and service providers providing staff to third parties, and everyone is incredibly busy. I have never seen the market like this at the start of a new year.
“The rebound post the challenges of 2020 is already exceeding the pre-Covid levels for demand for talent and my view is that 2021 will present very different challenges for business.
“Those that have great technology and people in place are well positioned to take advantage.”