The COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape of the Australian workforce as many people were forced to work from home.
But as the country began learning to live with COVID last year, job seekers – including new university graduates – suddenly found themselves in high demand.
Job advertisements hit record levels in January, and an Indeed survey shows that in 2021 the number of new or soon-to-be graduates who had secured a graduate job position by December was 45 per cent.
That’s 15 per cent higher than over the same period in 2020.
APAC Indeed economist Callam Pickering said the survey results reflect a strong jobs recovery over 2021.
“There’s a significant imbalance in the labour market right now between the number of opportunities that are available and the supply of labour to fill those jobs,” Mr Pickering said.
“And that’s why job-seekers do find themselves in such a favourable situation – and I think that extends to graduates as well.”
Jobs aplenty, offers too
Mr Pickering said the dynamics of the labour market have shifted in favour of job-seekers and graduates.
“For much of the past decade it has been an employer’s market, where they had the power – there was a lot of competition for any roles that were available,” he said.
“That has shifted a lot in the last 12 months.
“Graduates find themselves in a position where they have a little bit more choice in where and how they work, and they’re in a better position to bargain for wages, or better conditions, or where and how they work.”
Mr Pickering said job opportunities are “elevated across the board”, with particularly strong demand coming from the following sectors:
Apart from more bargaining power, a tighter labour market is also cutting short the time and effort graduates spend looking for a job.
‘Keen to get people on board’
Chloe, 27, graduated with a Bachelor of Interior Design (Honours) from RMIT at the end of 2021.
Midway through 2021 she applied for a graduate job with an award-winning global architecture and design practice, and while she was unsuccessful, the company decided to create an additional and identical role for her.
“I guess they had the room to make another role, and they were keen to get people on board,” Chloe said.
Indeed’s survey results show one in five graduates in 2021 secured jobs without formally applying.
Chloe experienced that reality firsthand, as she ended up receiving more job offers from other firms after graduating – without having applied.
Chloe said she and her cohort had an easier time securing their post-study futures, moreso than 2020 graduates who faced a more “challenging” job search because many firms weren’t hiring.
With the presence of COVID-19 still looming over the country in 2021, Chloe thought she would face similar difficulties in her job search, but her teachers assured her that job openings were on the rise.
“I definitely feel very lucky,” she said.
Multinational law firm Baker McKenzie’s senior consultant for graduate recruitment Natalie Mascarenhas said the company is offering a range of wellbeing and recognition programs to entice graduates.
“We continue to see increasing demand for legal services, which requires top talent,” Ms Mascarenhas said.
“At the same time, we are experiencing a hyper-competitive market for the recruitment of the best and brightest law graduates from Australia’s leading universities.”
Ms Mascarenhas said graduates are being given flexibility over when and where they work, with the firm also providing opportunities to grow. This fits in with Indeed’s findings, as Mr Pickering said employers are seeing greater opportunity for graduates to fast-track their careers.
Businesses struggling to fill roles are distributing responsibilities to their existing workforce, he said.
“I think that’s been caused by skill shortages, which is creating opportunities for graduates to potentially take on additional responsibilities,” Mr Pickering said.