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Today’s top skills in demand


Australia’s job market trends are constantly evolving, with certain skills more popular with employers than others. Knowing what skills are in demand can help guide your future career plans and ensure you remain in employment. For employers, knowledge of the skills in demand can steer your workforce planning and internal training and development efforts, enabling you to upskill staff to overcome skills gaps. 

Below you’ll find today’s most in demand skills. We update this list regularly in line with the latest recruitment trends to ensure you remain competitive – whether you’re looking to get hired or add to your team. 

The factors driving demand   

Job market trends and the skills in demand are constantly changing. Whether driven by technological change or unexpected disruptions such as COVID-19, recruitment trends and the top skills in demand naturally evolve over time. 

Right now, in many industries we’ve never seen such a candidate short job market. COVID-19-related travel restrictions and border closures have highlighted just how deep domestic skills shortages are in certain fields, with overseas skilled professionals no longer plugging skills gaps and large organisations unable to deploy workforces globally. 

At the same time, employers are adding new skills to their team to build a resilient, digital and agile future workforce. Together, the resulting momentum is fuelling a long list of skills in demand. 

The lockdown yo-yo effect

Hiring activity has remained resilient throughout the latest lockdowns and recruitment trends. While lockdown 1.0 did come with reduced vacancies in 2020, Australia powered out into a stronger employment position than anyone anticipated.  

Fast forward to today, and we’ve become masters at quickly moving in and out of lockdowns as required, while simultaneously pushing forward with our business, team and individual priorities. This includes recruitment and investing in headcount growth. 

But with a genuine shortage of skilled professionals, hiring employers are now competing for top talent. 

Top 5 skills in demand

We’ve examined job market trends across the 27 industries and sectors we recruit in, and below are the top 5 most in-demand skills that companies need nationally. These are the skills that are in strongest demand relative to supply. We’ve focused on job titles to reveal the exact hard or technical skills at the apex of the supply and demand imbalance. If you’re interested in the top soft skills in demand, we have also complied the seven job ready soft skills you need today. 

1. Software Developers 

Significant demand exists for Software Developers as organisations look to improve their customers’ digital channels. While the languages, frameworks and products vary from organisation to organisation, proven experience in React, Node or Kotlin is particularly sought after now. In addition to technical skills, organisations want well-rounded candidates with strong problem solving and communication skills, too. 

2. Civil Project Engineers 

Within civil construction, recruitment activity is high for Project Engineers with a civil engineering degree and previous experience working as an Engineer in the construction of projects to the required specifications. With a strong pipeline of projects, and both state and federal government investment, hiring demand is being driven up across the country for candidates in a market that is already experiencing skills shortages. 

3. Talent Acquisition 

Our recruiters report that Talent Acquisition professionals are in extremely short supply, with large organisations often looking for multiple employees at all seniority levels to support stretched teams. With organisations expanding their headcount, suitable employees must be able to successfully manage a large volume of hiring needs, use multiple channel talent attraction strategies (including industry specific talent pools), and possess strong stakeholder engagement, communication and expectation management skills. Candidates with technology discipline experience are in especially high demand as this industry grows rapidly.

4. Payroll Officers

Payroll is an area of continuous and extreme demand. While recruitment demand for many accountancy & finance skills fluctuates based on seasonal trends, payroll is required year-round. However, the shortage of suitable talent pushes this job into the top 5 of skills in demand nationally. When they recruit, employers look for Payroll Officers with relevant systems knowledge and experience working on implementations or improvements. They also look for proven experience working with a similar volume of employees, and an understanding of the relevant industry awards.

5. HD Fitters 

Australia’s mining sector is experiencing skills shortages thanks to high exploration activity, new mines, increased production and competition with the construction industry for top talent. In highest demand are HD Fitters with previous experience on Caterpillar, Komatsu and Liebherr equipment. Our recruiters report a preference from employers for trade qualified heavy diesel labour, although some will employ a candidate with a light vehicle qualification provided they have HD experience. Field service experience is preferred. 

Other skills in demand

Executive and Personal Assistants

Executive and Personal Assistants are in demand across most industries, but especially financial services and technology, as well as in change teams. These professionals act as gatekeepers for their Partners and Directors and therefore must be able to make quick decisions on their executive’s behalf, prioritise tasks and determine who their executive spends their time with (both virtually and face-to-face). 

Our recruiters reveal that demand is highest for candidates who adapt to change, think outside the box and use the latest technology to implement an efficient process. Employers expect a candidate to have experience preparing board reports, taking minutes, generating and distributing reports, formatting presentations and proposals, providing IT support and fulfilling general HR and office management functions in an organisation.

Mine Engineers 

Mine Engineers are also in high demand but short supply in today’s recruitment market. Employers require degree qualified candidates with at least five or more years of previous mining experience. At present, underground operations have higher staffing needs than surface operations thanks to the strong gold price and a surge in battery mineral commodities (copper, nickel and lithium). 

Boilermakers, Fabricators and Welders 

Boilermakers, Fabricators and Welders are needed in response to an increase in Australian manufacturing and reduced imports. However, there is a shortage of candidates locally. Traditionally, international contractors helped met staffing demand, but closed borders and a lack of apprenticeships in 2020 have reduced the supply of skilled and available people. Ideally, employers require a candidate with a Certificate III in Engineering (fabrication trade), post apprenticeship experience and the ability to perform MIG and TIG fabrication.

Clinical Research Associates 

Given Australia’s COVID-19 response, and limited impact on trial activities, our nation has become a hive for clinical research. As a result, international organisations have redirected their research efforts here, and Clinical Research Associates remain in high demand across the industry. Candidates with direct onsite and field experience are preferred over those with only remote monitoring experience; the latter have limited exposure to key opinion leaders and management, site staff and field-based activities. 

To attract a suitable CRA, our recruiters report that employers are offering higher salary packages, sign-on bonuses and greater flexibility, including work from home arrangements or the opportunity to work in a regional capacity to limit travel requirements. Oncology experience remains highly sought after and a major advantage to any candidate. In addition, phase I experience is attractive as more small biotech trials take place. 

Civil Designers 

Civil Designers with experience in structural and hydraulics engineering or residential subdivisions are experiencing high recruitment demand. An increase in infrastructure and residential land development projects in several locations has seen work volumes and therefore candidate needs rise. Organisations require talent with experience using relevant software packages, especially Civil 3D and 12D, ideally coupled. A Bachelor of Engineering is advantageous, but not essential. 

Digital Producers 

Digital Producers with experience project managing digital content, production, quality assurance and campaign delivery are in high demand. Job candidates must possess excellent stakeholder management skills and be able to communicate project needs across product, marketing, sales and web design teams. The ability to navigate content management software (CMS), check and test each production before launch, and ensure teams deliver on time and within brand frameworks is essential.

Talent with proven experience managing digital production across departments in medium to large organisations is preferred. Ideally, candidates must have a background in marketing, however it is more important to be an outstanding digital designer, CMS user and manager of numerous product releases simultaneously. Video editing or virtual content delivery experience is advantageous. 

Mechanical Fitters 

Mechanical Fitters are in high demand at present. When recruiting for this job, employers require trade qualified candidates with experience in heavy industrial, mining or pumps, including maintenance. Electrical experience is highly advantageous. Given supply shortages, pay rates are increasing as the candidate market tightens.

Commercial Contract Administrators 

Within commercial construction, recruitment demand is high for Contract Administrators with previous experience. Ideally, hiring managers want a degree-qualified candidate, however those who possess both a tertiary qualification and a trade qualification are highly regarded.

Estimators 

We are also seeing high recruitment demand for Estimators with broad experience in residential and civil construction. We expect a pickup in multi-residential construction to further add to this jobs demand.

Carpenters 

Carpenters with exposure to commercial builds and fitouts are required in today’s recruitment market, as are those who can formwork and concrete. Residential carpenters are also required for home and high-rise projects. Experience in framing and roofing is highly regarded. With project deadlines continuing to tighten, our recruiters report that hiring demand exceeds supply.

Legal Counsels

Inhouse Legal Counsels are in high demand across Australia, especially in larger organisations. While recruitment demand exists across industries, it is greatest in financial services, mining, construction and technology. Given candidate shortages, relevant industry experience is not essential. Talent at the mid to senior level is in shortest supply, especially those with private practice training and contract expertise. 

Storepersons 

There is a shortage of reliable and committed Storespersons for jobs who can work overtime and possess a forklift ticket and any other relevant tickets the hiring employer requires, such as gantry crane, working at heights and RF scanning. Warehouse exposure and the ability to work in busy environments are expected, as is inventory system knowledge, such as SAP. 

Financial and Management Accountants

Financial and Management Accountants with strong interpersonal and business partnering skills are needed. Hiring managers require either a CA or CPA qualification, industry-specific knowledge and ERP systems exposure.

Freight Forwarders

Freight Forwarders with experience working for a freight forwarder rather than a shipping company are needed in today’s recruitment market. For this job, candidates must possess specific software experience, such as Cargowise, pending job import or export experience and air or sea freight experience.

Early Childhood Teachers 

There is a shortage of Early Childhood Teachers with a solid knowledge of the EYLF and National Quality Framework, as well as strong communication skills and the ability to work in a team setting.

National Account Managers 

FMCG and consumer goods companies have high recruitment demand for National Account Managers. When recruiting for such jobs, employers look for candidates who have managed national accounts for a similarly sized organisation and have led the Coles, Woolworths, Independents or eCommerce account. However, most candidates in the market with such experience are instead looking for career progression into a National Business Manager role and are not interested in a lateral move. With only a small pool of National Account Executives who possess the experience required to step up into National Account Manager jobs, recruitment demand continues to far outweigh supply. Consequently, any National Account Manager with the appropriate experience who is open to a lateral move can leverage a strong pay rise.

Facilities Managers 

Recruitment demand has increased for technical Facilities Managers with an engineering or trade qualification in addition to a thorough understanding of mechanical and electrical services to reduce contractor spend. Jobs for Facilities Managers are becoming more strategic, with professionals called upon to navigate unprecedented challenges, such as ensuring a safe return to the office and the practical implementation of hybrid working. As a result, market demand remains high.

High School Mathematics and Science Teachers 

Mathematics Teachers and Science Teachers in physics and chemistry are in high demand at present. Hiring managers require candidates with experience teaching at the HSC level, or equivalent, along with excellent communication and presentation skills, strong assessment and curriculum knowledge, and the technology skills required to teach remotely during lockdowns. 

Urban and Town Planners 

Within the architecture sector, there is huge demand for Urban and Town Planners with a background in large-scale planning for medium to high density residential developments and public space development. Both public and private sector experience is sought, although demand is higher for candidates with a strong understanding of Local Government standards and requirements. Experience using Revit is preferred.  

Procurement Specialist 

Procurement Specialists with a broad skillset and exposure to a variety of categories are in short supply. Demand is high as organisations look to reduce costs and increase operating efficiencies. Recruitment demand exists for generalists who can work across a broad variety of subject matter and drive procurement outcomes, regardless of the category of spend. In addition, strong virtual stakeholder engagement skills are expected. Such niche skills are in short supply.

Customer Service Representatives  

Customer Service Representatives are in high demand in call centres, however very particular skills are sought. Hiring managers look for candidates with previous customer service experience in a high-volume, fast-paced environment. Candidates must also possess excellent computer skills since they are required to use multiple systems. Confidence, a professional phone manner, an ability to work under pressure and a genuine passion for helping people are all necessary. 

Property Managers/Lease Consultants 

Finally, Commercial Property Managers and Lease Consultants with proven experience in acquisitions and leasing are sought to fulfil multiple functions. The general decentralisation of CBD workforces has added to market demand for those who can demonstrate previous success in relocating, downsizing and managing tenancies. While demand has reduced for large CBD office space, many businesses want to retain CBD headquarters, albeit on a smaller scale with potentially multiple suburban satellite offices. This is a complex tapestry to untangle. Add COVID-19 cleans, rebates and rent deferments, along with a requirement to manage additional asset classes (particularly industrial, which is strong), and demand for suitable candidates is high. 

Advice for employers

If you need to recruit candidates in short supply, our advice is to firstly review and promote your EVP. Undertake workforce planning to understand your skills requirements, conduct a skills gap analysis, and consider how you can upskill existing staff to fill gaps. Make use of temporary workers to alleviate the pressure short-term until a new permanent team member can be sourced. 

Of course, a competitive salary and benefits package is essential. So, too, is keeping on top of job market trends. As we’ve seen from the data in our Hays Salary Guide, career progression opportunities, training and ongoing learning and development are very important to candidates, and can differentiate you from other employers in the race for top talent. Other increasingly common benefits include over 20 days of annual leave, mental health and wellness programs and payment of professional membership fees. 

For roles that were completed remotely during lockdowns, hybrid working is no longer viewed as a benefit – it’s expected. After all, candidates believe that if they were required to work remotely during lockdowns, they should be able to do so long term. Consequently, organisations that don’t offer regular hybrid working now struggle to attract top talent. 

Advice for job candidates

Mindset continues to play a key role in a person’s ability to secure a job with a new organisation today. Don’t quit before you start simply because of snap lockdowns or COVID-19 disruption. The reality is that jobs are still available for those with the skills hiring managers need. So, update your CV and LinkedIn profile, prepare concrete evidence of your achievements to share in your CV and interviews and plan your job search.    

It’s also important to upskill regularly to stay on top of the latest job market trends in your field. If you haven’t already done so, set career goals so you have a clear plan of action to work towards to achieve your development needs and career ambitions.  

Be realistic in your salary expectations by understanding typical salaries for your role in relation to the latest job market trends. Salaries are increasing for skills in demand, but only so far – there is an expectation gap between what professionals expect and employers can offer. Therefore, consider whether non-financial benefits can bridge the divide. Talk to your recruitment consultant if you are unsure about your salary expectations or the latest recruitment trends.

Finally, make sure you take care of your mental health & wellbeing at work and throughout your jobs search.