Australia

People 

Attracting and retaining appropriately qualified staff and increasing pressure on wages remains a top-of-mind issue for private businesses.

Nationally over the past 6 to 12 months, 46 percent of the private businesses we surveyed have increased their employee headcount. For a further one third of businesses headcount has remained unchanged. The state-by state breakdown of headcount trends is illuminating. New South Wales and Victoria boast the highest proportion of respondents reporting an increase in headcount over the previous 6 to 12 months despite the fact that both these state economies appear to have been struggling.

 

Nationally, 42 percent of businesses expect to increase employee numbers during the next 6 to 12 months while a similar proportion plan to keep their headcount essentially unchanged.

 


Figure 1: Employee headcount changes in the previous 12 months (% of responses by state/territory).

 

  National NSW QLD SA VIC WA NT TAS

Increased

46  52.4 45 31 48.9 44.4 29.6 40

Decreased

20.5  19.4 21 24.1 19.7 20.4 22.2 22.9

Remained the same

33.5 28.2 34 44.8 31.4 25.2 48.1 37.1


Headcount forecasts for the coming 6 to 12 months are relatively optimistic. Nationally 42 percent of our surveyed companies expect to increase employee numbers over this period. Admittedly this is down on the 53 percent forecasting an increase in our 2011 survey, although those businesses expecting to cut their headcounts increased from only 11 to 15 percent. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 61 percent of Western Australian businesses are planning to increase their headcounts in the immediate future.

 


Figure 2: Employee headcount intentions for the next 12 months (% of responses by state/territory).

 

  National NSW QLD SA VIC WA NT TAS

Increase

41.6  35.5 41 41.4 39.4 61.1 44.4 40

Decrease

15.1 20.2 11 17.2 16.8 7.4 11.1 20

Remain the same

43.3 44.4 48 41.4 43.8 31.5 44.4 40

Forty-four percent of respondents are currently suffering a skills shortage, which is down from the 55 percent reporting a skills squeeze in 2011. This experience is consistent with a softening in the demand for labour. Predictably, Western Australia and the Northern Territory are reporting the most severe skills shortages.

 


Figure 3: Businesses experiencing skills shortages (% of responses by state/territory).

 

  National NSW QLD SA VIC WA NT TAS

Yes

43.91 30.9 43.4 27.6 44.9 68.5 65.4 41.2

No

56.1 69.1 56.6 72.4 55.1 31.5 34.6 58.8

Three quarters of companies advised they are experiencing hiring constraints, with a shortage of necessary skill sets, high wage costs and the general economic uncertainty emerging as the most serious impediments to hiring. 


Finally, nationally, 63 percent of respondents expect wages to increase by 3 to 4 percent over the next year while a further 18 percent think wages will rise by 5 to 6 percent over the same period. Businesses in Western Australia and the Northern Territory are expecting the highest increases in wages.

Video: Private Companies Survey 2012

Video: Private Companies Survey 2012
KPMG's National Managing Partner of Private Enterprise, Peter Siebels, gives an overview of the findings from the Private Companies Survey 2012.

Full report

Private Companies Survey 2012 in PDF

Download a copy of the Private Companies Survey 2012 in PDF.