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Australian small business confidence highest in Canberra
A quarterly snapshot of the Australian small business landscape shows Canberra’s confidence is up for a third straight quarter, with the capital leading the nation in its optimistic outlook.
The latest Sensis Business Index report indicates overall behaviours of Australia’s small and medium businesses and shows the national mood is positive.
PageGroup has seen similar confidence trends, with many employers in the ACT expanding their workforces and continuing to look at successful means of recruiting high-quality personnel to the capital city.
Growth economy and strong sales projections drive ACT confidence
The Sensis survey’s ACT respondents cite a continued expectation of increased sales and profitability in the coming months.
Sensis Chief Executive John Allan says, "Canberra businesses reported the best profitability result last quarter, which helped drive the positive views of the economy."
The current optimism stems from Canberra’s overall economic strength, with the ACT in great shape moving into 2018.
Canberra is a city with a healthy amount of innovation and entrepreneurship, with key industry sectors showing high engagement. Technical, construction and infrastructure markets maintain solid growth with no immediate signs of slowing.
Several of the capital’s major industries are currently underpinned by the light rail project, which is contributing to employment and business growth across multiple areas.
Strong growth and competition across key Canberra business sectors
Several major growth industries in the ACT market indicate a high level of competition when it comes to attracting and retaining staff.
Technology, management consultancy, professional services, construction, engineering and infrastructure are all experiencing increased personnel competition, and have become focus areas for PageGroup’s recruitment in the region.
ACT growth sectors differ somewhat from national trends, in part due to Canberra’s reliance on the government and professional services markets for jobs. These economic mainstays in the territory mean there is an ongoing engagement of services from government, including technology providers, management consulting companies and service providers.
According to Allan, in the rest of the country sectors showing the greatest confidence are hospitality; communications, property and business services; cultural, recreational and personal services; and health and community services.”
Skilled candidates in short supply
Demand in the Canberra labour market constantly outstrips migration of skilled, high-quality candidates.
This remains a challenge for ACT employers across many industries, and particularly for small and medium businesses. There is a solid recruitment focus on the location benefits of the region, with consistent efforts to attract candidates who may be keen to relocate from other cities in Australia and abroad.
The high level of demand for skilled candidates is not seen as an insurmountable barrier to business growth or optimism, and many businesses in Canberra actively recruit for roles based on affordability and the liveability index. Canberra’s short commute times, comparatively low housing costs and laid-back lifestyle are attractive to candidates seeking a change.
With relative living costs in centres such as Sydney and Melbourne remaining extremely high, the improvement of recreation facilities and family lifestyle benefits in the ACT are drawing skilled professionals who may not have considered it a desirable location 5 or 10 years ago.
Above-average ACT wages growth supported by competition for staff
According to the Sensis report, wages growth in the ACT was up 15 points for the quarter to September 2017. Businesses report expectations of further wages growth for the next quarter.
In markets such as construction and infrastructure, competition for the best talent is strong and businesses are competing directly with one another for outstanding candidates.
The city’s relatively small population of around 400,000 people means there are only so many skilled recruits to go around, and a higher salary offering could seal the deal in securing a candidate with multiple prospects.
Overall, wage growth expectations around the country are similarly upbeat. Of those surveyed for the latest Director Sentiment Index, the half-yearly report by the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), 36 percent of company directors expect an increase in wages growth over the next 12 months.
ACT growth optimism in line with national sentiment
Overall business confidence levels are trending upwards around the country.
The current level of business optimism hasn’t been seen since December 2013, with Allan saying, “Australia’s economic fortunes appear to be on the up, with the past four quarters of the Sensis Business Index, including this one, revealing a positive outlook towards the economy among Australia’s small and medium businesses.”
The AICD study results also say that company directors continue to feel optimistic about business growth. Of the directors surveyed, 57 percent expect growth in the coming year.
Canberra’s small and medium business economic outlook is confident with good reason. Organisations are growing and securing their own businesses, and they are doing very well in a happy economic environment. This is allowing small businesses - the key employers in the Australian economy - to grow and thrive.
Want to know more about jobs or finding quality candidates in Canberra? Contact our team today.