Sydney, January 29, 2021 - Professional recruitment services firm Michael Page Australia launched the Talent Trends 2021 Report, with a keen eye on Australia’s job market. While hiring activities dipped 52% in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, 43% of employers cited their plans to increase headcount numbers this year - indicating an optimistic recovery path.

Sharmini Wainwright, Senior Managing Director of Michael Page Australia, says, “The quick containment of the virus, along with the shift to remote working, meant that many businesses continued with their hiring activities and plans sooner than anticipated, albeit remotely. Furthermore, the Australian government’s 2020/21 federal budget is reason for optimism – $677 billion worth of spending measures were announced, with many of the major policy initiatives helping to create new jobs.”

In view of the economic demands, the sectors earmarked for highest hiring activity are industrial & manufacturing, retail, property, FMCG as well as professional services.

According to the report, strong demand for critical roles was also observed in Australia’s technology space with candidate shortages in development, machine learning, AI, automation, cybersecurity and cloud technologies, and a significant increase in remote working.

In response to the pandemic in 2020, businesses without existing digital capabilities had to act quickly to ensure business continuity amid the pandemic. In fact, upgrading technology and digitising was one of the major drivers of technology hiring and 55% of technology companies in Australia expect to increase job creation in 2021. Now, Australian technology organisations are becoming more open-minded to hiring staff based in other states and countries, as well as contract roles as a result of the pandemic’s ongoing impact on employment and work-from-home challenges.

The pandemic also placed critical importance on healthcare and life sciences roles, particularly those that are highly sought after in key industries. The sector’s resilience, along with ongoing employment demand, looks set to last well after the pandemic is gone.

As a viable option to the demands of flexible working in Australia, Sharmini Wainwright observes, “While temporary work and contracting opportunities were established in Australia well before COVID-19, we saw its acceleration due to the pandemic’s impact on hiring plans. As it became an attractive and viable alternative to permanent jobs amid the uncertainty, we expect a continuation of its popularity.” 23% of companies in Australia cited prioritising short-term contractors/temporary employment in their 2021 hiring strategy.

Across the Asia Pacific region, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a major blow to the global economy across all sectors and markets in 2020. Job vacancies dropped by 8% to 35% depending on the location. Several businesses reported a conservative approach to their hiring strategy, choosing instead to freeze or even reduce their headcount in order to reduce costs. However the reduced rate of hiring was not an indication that businesses shut out all qualified talent altogether. We saw very positive trends upward from Q2 to Q3, and Q4 versus Q3 2020. Optimism exists in 2021, as 42% of businesses in Asia Pacific said that they are already looking to increase headcount in the year.

While the boundaries of work-life balance were debated in 2020, 4 in 5 employees were found to feel equally or more productive working from home, only 5% of them prefer to work completely remotely. This indicates a need for frequent social interaction with co-workers. With this, 51% of organisations evolved their performance evaluations. To reflect the times of crisis, management teams started reassessing individuals with greater importance placed on positive behaviours, 64% of companies rated team collaboration as the most valued employees attribute during times of crisis.


Editor’s note: The Michael Page Australia Talent Trends 2021 Report features insights and market sentiment in Asia Pacific on prominent recruitment and talent-related topics including digital readiness, organisational design, flexible work, leadership, performance management and diversity and inclusion. The results draw from a survey of 12 Asia Pacific markets, with over 5,500 businesses and 21,000 employees, of which 3,500-plus are directors or CXOs. 

For more hiring insights and salary trends in 2021, Michael Page spokespeople are available for media interviews.

Contact: Germaine Lim via [email protected] or +65 9710 1760