Business Insights – Evidence of Recruitment Challenges in Australian Markets in 2021-2022

I’m here with insights for Australian businesses on 20 May 2021.

I wrote about recruitment in February and I’m revisiting it again today because the message is so important for all Tenfold clients and Australian small businesses and medium size businesses, particularly those who are going to experience substantial growth over the next 18 months. Please consider this message carefully – recruitment will get much harder as 2021 progresses.

We’re seeing more and more evidence of businesses facing challenges when recruiting for skilled roles and this is now starting to get some airtime in the media. As an example, there was an article in The Age this week that reported on employers having to provide $10k sign-on bonuses to secure skilled staff in the hospitality sector.

To state this problem quite simply: a lack of resources will stall your business’s growth.

These are some of the market forces that explain what is happening:

  • Australia has traditionally relied on immigrants to fill roles in the economy where there aren’t enough local workers;
  • Australia’s immigration has fallen due to COVID and is likely to stay low over the medium term;
  • In fact, more people will leave Australia than arrive over the next 2 years. To give you the data, in 2019-2020 Australia had a net inflow of 194,000 people. Over the next two years, the federal government is expecting a net outflow of 174,000. This is an even higher outflow than predicted in last year’s economic forecast;
  • In the federal budget delivered on Tuesday 11 May, the prediction by Treasury is that Australia will keep the borders closed until at least the second half of 2022;
  • Meanwhile other countries have started to or are planning to reopen their borders to migrants. This week in the UK, the governments have eased travel bans for overseas holidays. Migrants with non-leisure reasons for travel may well be able to avail of the existing exceptions.
  • As we all know, Australia has been slower to roll out and receive vaccines and this will impact upon when borders can reopen.
  • Australians are now conditioned to eliminating COVID-19 and this means there is little tolerance for any community transmission of COVID, which makes borders hard to open.


What this means for Australian business owners:

  • Recruitment will take longer and require more effort on the part of employers;
  • With the demand for skilled workers (and in fact all types of workers), it is going to be vitally important this year to retain your team;
  • Job candidates will have more employment options to choose from and will be in a position to play off competing job offers to get the best outcome for themselves.


What Australian business owners can do to get ahead of the pack:

  • Start recruiting sooner because it will take longer. As one Tenfold client pointed out this week, “If the contract we won earlier this year came up now or in the next two months, there’d be no way we could possibly deliver on it.
  • Use your networks to source potential candidates:
  • Existing team members’ contacts, clients’ contacts, suppliers’ contacts
  • Social media channels
  • Past applicants
  • Don’t wait for candidates to apply; adopt the executive search techniques used by recruiters, but do it inhouse;
  • Shift a substantial amount of your inhouse marketing resource to actively target recruitment;
  • Position yourself as an employer people want to work with. Promote what sets you apart from other employers, such as a good culture, positive work environment, career opportunities, good work conditions and pay. I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming client brief.


The Tenfold business coaching team is combining our knowledge and the insights we’re seeing in our clients’ businesses and more widely across the business landscape to give you the edge you need. Expect your business coach to be advising you on specific tactics for your business. Having the right resources will be the critical success factor for many businesses this year.


Ashley Thomson B.Eng. (Hons), Grad. Dip. Mgmt, MEI
Managing Director
Tenfold Business Coaching