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Trades Recruitment – Market Commentary July 2020

Despite the continuing COVID-19 crisis, demand for trades related roles has increased substantially since our last Market Commentary in April. Companies have adjusted somewhat to the “new normal” in the past month and they’re starting to recruit again – although not to the same levels we saw pre-COVID. Around 70% of the roles are permanent and 30% ongoing casual, showing that there’s some willingness to commit to new recruits.   

We haven’t seen any movement in salaries in recent times and the Fair Work wage decision deferred a very modest 1.75% increase for most of the industrial awards relevant to trades until November.

Recent comments from Federal and State governments suggest that they’re interested in pushing infrastructure projects and specialised manufacturing – there may be more opportunity for tradespeople in these sectors in the medium term compared with say, commercial and residential construction. The AI Group’s Performance of Manufacturing Index which measures the strength of manufacturing shows that manufacturing is growing again after a steep drop in April and May. A lot of the growth is within food and beverage manufacturing.

Mechanical & Electrical Trades

The big trend we’ve witnessed over the past few weeks has been clients seeking to recruit mechanical tradespeople – far more than electrical. Our current clients are gaining some confidence and are now looking to fill roles in a range of sectors including the machine tool industry, logistics and niche manufacturing such as automotive accessories and defence.  The requirements are mainly for Fitters & Turners to fill maintenance and CNC roles, as well as Boilermakers for fabrication work. 

Field Service, Building & Mechanical Services

There continues to be very few requirements for tradespeople in field service roles and the building & mechanical services sectors. Current employees are generally staying put and companies are watching their expenses carefully. There are many strong candidates in the market but hiring conditions continue to be slow.