Townsville Workforce Report January 2018

In this report – Workforce brief, Business numbers 2011 to 2017 and Skills hard
to find.

Townsville Region Brief:

• Employed workforce improved equal fastest in Australia
• Trend Unemployment fastest improvement in Australia
• Trend participation rate improved 3.3 points to 64.2
• DS Economics Projects and Jobs list reinforces a more positive outlook for Townsville in 2018/19.

Townsville a jobs hotspot

In the year to January 2018, Townsville had the equal fastest employment
growth of all regions in Australia. Townsville employment growth was 12%
compared to the national average of 3.6%.
Townsville also experienced the biggest fall in unemployment in Australia in the
past year to January 2018. In the year to January 2018, Townsville’s
unemployment rate improved to 8.3%. There are still over 11,000 people
unemployed. The Trend participation rate also improved.










Based on this evidence Townsville regions economy and workforce is
improving but still has a way to go before it achieves a sweet spot. Townsville
region has been is likely to remain a jobs hotspot.

DS Economics started collecting project information in July 2017. The DS
Economics Construction and Jobs list identifies 76 Townsville projects
supporting over 7,300 total jobs over 3 to 5 years.

Over the past year it has proved challenging for local business to find the right
person. A recent federal government survey revealed that 40% of Townsville
employers were having difficulty filling vacancy with the major reason being
applicants did not have adequate technical skills and experience. Many of the
business respondents commented they did not have enough applicants.
It is likely that future recruitment will become even more challenging as
competition for skilled and experienced workers increases.

Townsville is a hotspot for health and social assistance business start ups.
According to ABS data Townsville’s net business registrations leveled off as at
June 2017. While North Australia’s largest city is still loosing construction and
retail firms it is gaining Health and Social Assistance, Financial Services
business and Accommodation and Food Services.

This latest data was released by the ABS on Tuesday 20 February 2018.
According to ABS data Townsville has growing specialisations in Health, rental
and real estate services, accommodation and food services and other services,
declining specialisations in construction, mining services and retail and under
specialisations in manufacturing, professionals and scientific businesses.
Between 2012 and 2017 Townsville lost almost 4% or 483 registered







The largest total decline in registered businesses in a Townsville industry was
in construction industry, which lost 442 firms. This industry holds many trade
related skills such as carpentry, plumbing and electrical skills.

Construction has the largest number of business in Townsville. Construction
has faired the worst of any Townsville industry over the past 5 years.
Construction businesses reached a peak in 2012 after solid mining investment,
Cyclone Yasi rebuild, Myers entrance to the city and the arrival of second
battalion. After a period of super normal activity (between 2003 to 2011), poor
public investment and a failure to restructure and innovate many construction
businesses left Townsville. In all 15.7% of Townsville construction businesses
were lost between 2012 and 2017. We estimate over 4,000 skilled construction
workers left Townsville between 2012 and 2017 with the big decline starting as
early as 2012-13. The number of construction projects on the horizon and the
loss of construction skills over the past five years suggest a looming supply
challenge for Townsville.







Other industries to loose registrations between 2012 and 2017 include Retail (-
153 or 17%) and Agriculture down 89 businesses or 13.2% between 2012 and








Other industries to loose registrations between 2012 and 2017 include Retail (-
153 or 17%) and Agriculture down 89 businesses or 13.2% between 2012 and








As the net figures suggest all was not bad for new business in Townsville.
Some industry’s increased their business numbers. Health Care and social
assistance increased total business numbers by 276 or 32.9% fuelled by the NDIS and other government recurrent expenditure programs. Financial and
Insurance services increased business numbers by 211, probably buoyed by
higher revenue opportunities in insurance and a restructure in car financing.








With an increase in construction activity between 2018 and 2019 we expect
construction skills to be in stronger demand, more direct, indirect and induced
expenditure and an improvement in net business registrations in Townsville.

Skills Needed in Townsville

Townsville has some existing and a definite looming skills challenge over the
next few years. Apprenticeship, Trainee, Graduate, Cadetship numbers have
been and are still too low in region and in fact across the state, running at half
the numbers of 2012.
As demand for the limited supply of workers increases, wages growth will likely
occur. We are already seeing signs of wages growth to attract quality staff,
wages have been NON-EXISTENT in the private sector over the last 5 years.
Recruitment firms like TP Human Capital are starting to approach your key staff.

Toughest jobs to find people for in Townsville:
• Civil Engineers
• Project Managers
• Diesel Fitters
• MC Truck Drivers
• Human Resources
• Marketing / Communications

* Labour-hire, Permanent, Temporary, Part-time roles the results are the same.  It’s getting tougher to find quality staff.


January and February are traditionally months when school and tertiary
graduates enter the workforce; wet season slows construction, tourism,
transport and agriculture production across the Townsville region. The year
ahead is looking more promising than any of the past five years for eager
workers. There currently 1140 vacant positions on Seek are for the Townsville
region (average for 2013 to 2016 was around 600).

Townsville is in a more positive workforce position than it was at the same time
last year. It’s likely that businesses (depending on industry) will be in a more
competitive environment, especially for workforce supply. Some sectors of the
Townsville economy are improving, evidenced by improving workforce
demand, unemployment and participation figures and bolstered by a robust
pipeline of job creating projects.

Some new businesses have opened their doors in Townsville recently, while
others have closed. According to ABS Net Business registrations in Townsville
city leveled off in July 2017. Enquiry for commercial office space, mainly from
engineers and construction related firms, improved in the December quarter

We expect Townsville’s workforce information to improve over the next 12 to
18 months as projects like the NQ Stadium and Haughton Bridge development
ramp up or commence. Townsville’s Projects pipeline has thousands of direct
jobs being created from multiple approved and near term projects.
In 2018, local businesses will more than likely have to head-hunt quality staff
rather than rely on being able to tap into available talent pools.

Clayton Cook
TP Human Capital

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