There continues to be sharp growth in digital services employment in WA, with the sector outpacing increases in most other job types over the past few years.

Social marketing, content and SEO strategy positions have become key to many local businesses, following global trends where there’s been a shift to separating traditional and digital marketing roles. More than half the businesses Michael Page deals within WA say digital is critical to their overall marketing mix, and the company has seen 57% growth in digital contract role recruitment this year alone.

Jane Muirsmith, from Perth-based digital consultancy Lenox Hill, says the state’s digital industry still has room for significant growth and maturation despite an already-healthy 20% year-on-year increase in WA’s digital workforce over the past 3 years.

Muirsmith says, “Perth has come such a long way in the last few years. Large WA companies have often looked to the East Coast for full-scale digital services in the past, but the pool of experience and talent here is making it more viable for them to use local people.”

Digital workforce investment boosted thanks to efficiencies in automation

The contraction of the resources sector hit many WA jobs hard, but as cost-cutting was rolled out across the state, digital services and digital marketing picked up. This can be attributed in part to the financial efficiencies of switching customer service and marketing activities to more automated models.

Businesses are realising how much more cost effective and time effective it is to move a portion of their customer interactions and marketing campaigns into a digital focussed environment.

Companies continue to increase digital budgets and invest heavily in content marketing, with a strong interest in video content development and production.

Increased spending to transform WA’s digital services landscape

Small and medium businesses surveyed by Michael Page intend to increase both marketing spend and digital spend over the next year. Companies of varying sizes dedicated 20% of their budget last year to upscaling and transforming their digital landscape.

The public sector is also spending up on digital. The WA Labor government’s 2017 budget allocates $71 million over the next 3 years to “workforce renewal and the redesign of service delivery.” The funds will be directed into digital transformation, frontline services, and the recruitment of entry level employees. This amount represents 20% of the $3.5 billion of budget repair and savings measures projected over the forward estimates, with $1.7 billion of the savings coming through public sector redundancies.

Instant access to digital marketing data great for business

The ability of companies to access data around their digital activities almost instantly is a huge drawcard and is contributing to the rise of digital jobs growth. Showing a business hard numbers around campaigns, and being able to see outcomes almost immediately, is something traditional marketing has never been able to do.

This ease of viewing metrics may be another reason companies are increasingly creating digital roles. Muirsmith believes being able to show direct outcomes of digital strategies means employers are becoming more open to increasing their staffing in the sector.

Muirsmith says, “If companies experience success with digital [strategies], they understand exactly what is working and can add staff accordingly; they get to see results quickly and that’s great for the digital industry as a whole.”

Digital contractors and consultants big winners

Small and medium WA businesses are more frequently recruiting contract roles in digital strategy and management. This is in line with a worldwide trend towards workforces increasingly made up of contract, consultant and freelance staff.

Contractors are being brought on board to set up digital strategy, advise on systems a company should be using, plan content strategy and educate staff on interoperating real-time data.

A business may not be in the position to work with an agency to manage their digital processes offsite, finding it more cost effective to bring in consultants on a project basis and then hiring someone more junior to implement the strategy once it’s been agreed on.

Michael Page predicts further investment into digital in 2018-19 in WA. Whether the roles created will be contract or permanent comes down to individual businesses. If a company has already seen value in someone performing a contract role, they may be keen to make a permanent hire because the return on investment is already proven.

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