When it comes to employment, it’s not all doom and gloom. The industry is still hiring and the hunt for top talent is real, says recruitment specialist and director of Capstone Luke Borg.
Capstone’s general manager and director based in Melbourne, Borg has worked through many industry highs and lows during his career, notably during the global financial crisis when a “complete loss of confidence and stop on hiring occurred almost overnight”.
This hasn’t happened during the COVID-19 crisis, Borg explains.
“There’s been a lot of fear and hype around people being let go, but the real estate and infrastructure sectors have weathered the storm reasonably well thus far.
“While we aren’t out of the woods, and certainly some of the recent outbreaks in Victoria and New South Wales are cause for concern, redundancies have been a lot lower than most people expected.
“During the GFC, a lot of capital was pulled from the market, but this time around we are seeing capital coming in from local and overseas sources. Australia is still seen as a good place to invest.”
Federal government stimulus – especially JobKeeper, which was recently extended for another six months, and the $25,000 HomeBuilder package – have had an “immediate effect” on the employment market. State government commitments to fast-track projects and cut through red tape have also helped, he adds.
“Some of these ‘shovel ready’ projects will move from planning to the delivery very quickly, encouraging more activity in the employment marketplace.”
Most of the new jobs this year have been in asset, facility and portfolio management. Valuers are also “highly sought-after” and facility management skills “continue to be in demand”.
Capstone is also seeing interest in both development delivery and front-end transactional roles in the industrial space, driven by logistics. “We’ve seen a growing number of overseas enquiries from companies looking to establish or strengthen their footprints in Australia.”
Borg sees retail remaining “cautious”. Anecdotal evidence from the top tier commercial agents has found some mall operators are operating at up to 85 per cent of their usual foot traffic. While new development projects may be on hold, many owners are thinking strategically about how to repurpose space, he says.
Capstone continues to see enquiries from well-capitalised developers waiting to take advantage of distressed assets. “When they do, they’ll need the talent to turn those assets around.”
Borg says that unlike in previous downturns, “businesses are finding ways to work around the impacts of COVID-19, rather than be crippled by them”.
Capstone has developed a free employment toolkit to help companies ride the waves of COVID-19, and is helping clients adapt their onboarding and recruitment practices to incorporate digital practices, Borg explains.
“A lot of C-suite that we work with acknowledge that we face tough times, but they are also seeing plenty of opportunities to increase their market share and grow their businesses. The consistent message we are getting is that they will need to hire more senior people to get projects across the line.
“Those looking for work are placing priority on stable employers with supportive leadership and flexible working environments.
“We are operating in a ‘new norm’, where there will be ups and downs, but there are still new projects coming online, and transactions occurring. Because of this, organisations are still looking for good talent that can provide a competitive edge.”