16/07/2009 - 00:00

Recruiters finding activity pockets

16/07/2009 - 00:00

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RECRUITMENT firms able to secure government contracts or tap into areas of resource-fuelled activity are expanding in the face of a broader economic slump.

Recruiters finding activity pockets

RECRUITMENT firms able to secure government contracts or tap into areas of resource-fuelled activity are expanding in the face of a broader economic slump.

Western Australian recruitment firm, Skill Hire, has employed more than 30 staff and opened two new offices after securing a Job Services Australia contract earlier this year.

Skill Hire was one of the beneficiaries of the federal government's shake-up of job placement and training programs. Not-for-profit organisations that had been running job placement programs lost considerable work under the revamped system, announced just more than three months ago.

Along with the new offices in Kalgoorlie and Carnarvon, Skill Hire has moved to bigger premises in Esperance, Geraldton and Bunbury to accommodate the increase in staff.

The company's recruitment state manager, Paul Whittle, said he expected a broader industry pick-up at the end of the year or start of next year, after the market bottomed out in May for recruitment.

"We've still taken a hit in certain areas, there's no getting around that," Mr Whittle told WA Business News.

There are more than 600 agencies in WA that hold employment agent licences, although anecdotally, a significant number of agencies have recently surrendered the right to act as a recruiter.

Job advertisements fell dramatically last year as companies tightened their personnel spend. Nationally, employment ads in major metropolitan newspapers fell by more than 51 per cent in 2008, according to an ANZ Bank survey.

Recruiters nominate law and information technology as two of the main sectors to have been hit by the financial crisis, along with the mining sector, which took an immediate knock after commodity prices tumbled last year.

The South West is viewed among recruiters as a "depressed" area for the moment, due to projects being scaled back.

More than 70 per cent of Australian subsidiaries of multinational companies had imposed hiring freezes or downsized since 2008, according to a report sponsored by employment agency Kelly Services.

"An observation has been that even the large, well-established agencies, if they haven't actively downsized their operations, have refined the mix of consultants in their businesses as the need for temporary and contract staff tends to recover more rapidly following a recession," Kelly Services Australia branch manager Juliet Magee said.

Ms Magee said the Gorgon project would result in work for recruiters.

"It is anticipated that skills in demand for this $50 billion project will be broad based, however the roles most likely to flow through to recruiters will be the highly skilled construction, engineering and technical roles," she said.

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