Recruitment agencies searching for increasingly rare IT and telecommunications workers are fuelling the rapid growth in Internet-based job vacancies.
While newspaper job ads rose only 0.4% in August nationally, online jobs jumped 14.3% to 12,899 across the six Internet job sites ANZ Bank monitors in its monthly survey.
In Australia, IT&T jobs have accounted for between 36% and 44% of total Internet job ads each month since February, according to Sydney-based recruitment firm Olivier Group, which surveys online vacancies.
The ANZ in New Zealand does not break its figures into job categories, but a quick search through the six sites - Seek, Netcheck, JobUniverse, Monster, Netjobs and Jobnet – reveals more than 6000 IT jobs.
The ANZ has been only tracking online ads since April, but the growth over the past five months is nearing 26%. Job growth in newspapers has been fairly static but just where the 13,000 extra jobs have come from is the source of some speculation.
The ANZ believes many of the jobs that now appear online are duplicated from other sources because of the relative cheapness of advertising on the Internet, though chief economist Bernard Hodgetts acknowledges some may be previously unadvertised positions.
“Use of the Net also appears to be expanding overall levels of advertising – that is, agencies are using the Net to advertise jobs that they might not otherwise have ever been placed in newspapers.” He says previously such jobs may have been advertised only in specialist publications such as agency newsletters, trade or professional magazines. They may simply not have been advertised at all, with employment consultants searching for applicants themselves.
Seek.co.nz business development manager Patrick Pruett believes companies can now afford to put up all their jobs on Web sites. "There are huge numbers of jobs available that are never advertised. I think online employment has definitely grown the overall employment market."
Those who have watched the recruitment industry for some time believe there is duplication and redescription – the same job being rewritten in several ways to boost the number of jobs appearing – as well as defunct or filled positions remaining online.
Because of the relatively low cost of advertising online, some jobs are also being advertised on more than one site.
While Hodgetts acknowledges there may be more jobs than on offer in the newspapers, he stresses that the job market is still slow.
“The surge in Net ads does not mean the labour market is buoyant – it’s more a case of advertisers seizing on a new - and probably cheaper - advertising channel that wasn't previously available which in turn is leading to more advertising activity overall. Also there is no real evidence that newspaper advertising itself is waning. The number of ads being placed in papers is about what we'd expect given a slower labour market at present. Indeed, in some regions, like Christchurch, ads in newspapers are at an all-time high.”
He notes that this last fact may partly reflect labour shortages that have meant that some jobs are being advertised repeatedly.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the number of jobs online continues to soar ahead of newspapers. Newspaper job ads may be at their lowest level since May 1999, according to Olivier, but Internet job advertising continues to surge ahead, with a 14.5% increase in the last month alone, according to the latest Olivier Internet Job Index.
Director Robert Olivier says the latest figures indicate a 90% increase in job ads since the start of the year and a doubling of online recruitment in a year. "The Internet is now the major medium for recruiting in Australia."
The Job Index is now surveying more than 119,000 jobs, in contrast to major metropolitan newspaper ads which continue to drift down to less than 28,000 a week, according to figures from ANZ Australia last week. Olivier says newspaper jobs ads alone must now be regarded as an unreliable economic predictor.