If you have found it challenging to recruit staff for your business you are not alone!

65% of business that are undertaking recruitment across Australia are saying exactly the same thing.  (Source: ABS, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, May 2023, data trended by the Australian Bureau of Statistics).

The labour shortages being experienced across all industry sectors has eased slightly this year.

However, compared to pre- 2020 many businesses are still struggling to secure the skills and labour they require to deliver on the opportunities available in the current market. Every day we hear from clients that they are struggling to recruit the employees they need. Boilermakers in the Hunter Valley is a classic example – we are currently sitting at 100% employment for this trade in the region and there are no immediate solutions on the horizon.

Why is this?

In my opinion there are multiple factors impacting on this “difficulty to recruit” these include strong economic activity, significant government infrastructure spending, a shortage in permanent & short term migration during 2020-2022.

Many industries are seeing significant employment growth with Health Care & Social Assistance, and the Construction sector leading the charge across Australia.

In the Hunter Valley, the new opportunities highlighted above have sparked great moves with thousands of employees deciding to test their value in the thriving labour market.

The other phenomenon we have witnessed as Recruitment specialists is the rise of the counteroffer with candidates preferring to ask for a salary increase and companies willing to agree, to retain key employees rather than source a replacement in a candidate short market.

So what is the state of labour market in the Hunter Valley?

Thriving Construction Industry:

The Hunter Region continues to witness substantial  growth in the residential construction sector. People love the Hunter and want to move here, who can blame them we live in a beautiful, diverse part of Australia with an abundance of attractions from beaches, wineries & country living.

New land developments and a consistent demand for apartment buildings in Newcastle are fueling this growth.

Infrastructure Investment:

There is over $4.5 billion worth of investments happening across the region, notable projects include:

  • $800 million John Hunter Hospital expansion
  • $2.1 billion M1 extension, the Hexham Road widening project
  • $450 million Newcastle Inner City Bypass.
  • $700 million Singleton bypass
  • $600 million Kurri Kurri Power Station,
  • $264 million Kurri Kurri Gas Line project.

Mining Sector Resilience:

The price of coal has historically played a pivotal role in driving economic activity in the Hunter Region. With records high prices last year and sustained above-average coal prices in 2023, this sector is a strong contributor to the local economy through direct employment, maintenance projects – engaging local manufacturers through to the roll-on effects into retail & hospitality & professional services.

Historically when coal is strong the Hunter does well, now we all accept that this is changing and the Hunter will need to adapt to a changing world but for now the local labour market benefits greatly from its strong ties to the mining sector.

The Labor Market in the Hunter Region

From a recruitment perspective, the Hunter Region’s labour market remains incredibly competitive as outlined above.  Jobs are plentiful and candidates are a little thin on the ground.  In our opinion the recent spate of interest rates hikes and cost of living pressures are seeing candidates take a more cautious approach when considering a career change.

Long-Term Prospects:

Given the substantial investment in the region and the stable price of coal, it is likely that the Hunter Region will continue to experience wage growth, trade and technical skill shortages, and a tight labour market for years to come.

While the broader economic landscape in New South Wales may be marked by uncertainty and proposed workforce reductions for some businesses, the Hunter Region remains a beacon of hope. Its economic diversity, ties to the mining sector, thriving construction industry, and significant infrastructure investments contribute to a labour market that continues to drive forward.

As a labour hire and recruitment company, we continue to work with our clients to discuss strategies to build a consistent and sustainable workforce.

If you are looking to partner with a recruitment company who can increase your chances of finding you the right staff for permanent positions or project-based work and labour hire, please reach out for a chat.

Paul Callinan

General Manager

Recruit Personnel