Salaries shift to higher gear

SUSTAINED jobs growth and low unemployment in Western Australia have combined to push salary levels in some sectors of the economy to levels above those in Sydney. The 2006 Hays Salary Survey provides a “graphic illustration” of the state’s continuing strong perform-ance, according to Hays (Australia) Pty Ltd managing director Nigel Heap. “These [WA salary] increases – in some cases taking them above Sydney salaries – clearly demonstrate the direct and indirect impact of the sustained growth in the state,” Mr Heap said. Many firms in the mining sector were mounting overseas campaigns to source candidates, as well as offering enhanced lifestyle benefits to sway domestic contenders their way, he said. The survey identified WA’s accountancy and finance sectors as having the largest salary increases, due to a critical shortage of accountants associated with the state’s mining, commodities and construction boom, driving salaries to equal, or come close to, those offered in Sydney. According to the survey, an external audit graduate with three years’ experience typically earns $53,000 in Perth compared with $52,000 in Sydney and Melbourne, while a management accountant with turnover up to $150 million in Sydney typically earns $100,000, compared with $95,000 in Perth. In the mining sector, WA offered the highest salaries with the survey identifying a stabilisation in operational mining salaries, while design, engineering and construction sectors witnessed the largest salary hikes. The survey highlighted a shift in focus by mining companies and contractors from salaries towards benefits and lifestyle choices, through the offering of vehicles, accommo-dation allowances, utilities assistance and sign-on bonuses. Of the sectors with the largest salary increases, mining and resources ranked highest, with 36 per cent of businesses surveyed offering a salary increase of more than 6 per cent, doubling the previous year’s 16 per cent of respondents. Professional services ranked second with 31 per cent of those surveyed offering salary increases of more than 6 per cent, a 35 per cent increase on 2005’s survey. The rise in salaries was also significant in the IT/ telecommunications sector. Here, 19 per cent of those surveyed offered increases less than 3 per cent in 2006 compared with 50 per cent in 2005, while 28 per cent offered increases of more than 6 per cent in 2006, compared with 8 per cent in 2005. In the manufacturing sector, 22 per cent of those surveyed increased salaries by more than 6 per cent in 2006, compared with just 2 per cent last year. Meanwhile, the Australian Institute of Management’s 2006 national salary survey found larger companies in WA were increasing salaries by 5 per cent, compared with the average national salary increase of 4.4 per cent, as a result of the continuing skills shortage. WA is second to Queensland, which has increased its salaries by 5.1 per cent, according to the survey. The survey also highlighted an increasing employee turnover rate with voluntary turnover rising 0.4 per cent on the previous year to 11.5 per cent.

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