Labour hire employment trends in Australia

The Australian workforce has been through a tumultuous few years. The lingering effects of COVID-19 and tough global headwinds have influenced many of the trends and challenges in labour hire and general employment that our nation is currently facing.

Historically low unemployment and ongoing labour shortages mean that businesses are struggling to find the right candidates to fill vacancies. Simple demand for workers is leading to stronger conditions and incentives right now. However, emerging factors – like soaring costs – may soon cause a rebalance in the labour hire market.

What does this mean for labour hire employment trends that will shape the recruitment industry in 2023 and beyond? MACFORCE Australia’s HR and Client Managers, Seb Kendrew and Chris Williams, have some insights for both the recruitment industry and prospective candidates.

Labour hire Security and stability

During periods of economic uncertainty and ballooning costs of living, job stability and a reliable income head to the top of everyone’s minds. Insecure work impacts employee health and wellbeing – with higher rates of anxiety, substance abuse and negative relationships.

In the Australia Talks National Survey 2021, 88 per cent of respondents agreed that job security is a problem in Australia. “That’s why MACFORCE focuses on longer-term placements,” Seb says. “People want stability – especially during the pressure of tough times.”

From the opposite perspective, Seb notes that offering secure and stable roles benefits employers too. “When a client gets to know the candidate more, and the candidate feels more at home in their job, they perform much better.”

Research supports this idea, with studies showing that job insecurity lowers performance by increasing the level of stress on employees. This, in turn, decreases their commitment to the organisation and further inflates worker turnover rates.

Labour hire transferable skills

Candidates often assume that they require a totally different skill set to succeed in a new job. While 74% of people are ready to undertake training when finding a new job, they may not need as much as they think.

Technology and market forces are rapidly transforming jobs. Research suggests that almost 10 per cent of tasks in any role today have undergone some level of change over the last five years. This makes transferable skills – valuable across jobs and industries – all the more important.

“Knowing how to operate different machines is an easy skill to transfer”, Chris notes. “Trades Assistants may also have picked up skills on a construction job that they can use to fast-track their training.”

While Chris concedes that direct experience is always preferable, he says that “a good attitude, willingness to learn on the job and solid general skills can absolutely get you into an exciting new industry.”

Satisfaction and flexibility

If there’s one area that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, it’s the value of employee engagement and motivation. After months and years of stress, restrictions and higher workloads, candidates now want more from their employers.

“MACFORCE is currently seeing candidates obtain higher hourly rates and shorter rosters,” Seb points out. “Clients now have to be more flexible with conditions and think outside the ordinary to attract workers.”

He underlines MACFORCE’s experience in supporting employees in the FIFO space, which sees them working away from home and in challenging conditions. “We have consultants ready to help our candidates – from mental health referrals to financial freedom.”

As Seb explains, a nimble labour hire or recruitment company can ask its clients the questions that candidates may not feel confident to ask themselves – something especially important in difficult economic times. “We can be your voice to get you into a better circumstance.”

How to navigate changing labour hire employment trends

Both candidates and businesses can take small steps to make the most of these Australian employment trends.

Tips for job seekers to secure a great jobTips for employers to find the right workers
Security and stability: Be honest about your skill level.Present yourself, not who you think the employer wants. Transferable skills: Don’t discard your previous achievements.Focus on the how, not the what to show off your successes. Satisfaction and flexibility: Think about what you truly want to be doing – your job shouldn’t be something you hate.Security and stability: Offer more permanent positions, rather than casual contracts.Build a culture of belonging and mutual respect. Transferable skills: Widen your search for candidates from adjacent industries.Consider other capabilities and experiences relevant to a role. Satisfaction and flexibility: Ask about (and respond to) what candidates want.


MACFORCE Australia is a recruitment company with heart. We’re focused on changing how people are employed in Australia. That includes offering more stable and rewarding jobs for Australians. MACFORCE helps candidates find suitable work placements, while supporting its clients to find suitable employees.

Looking for a career that offers security in uncertain times? Are you an employer that’s struggling with the current skills shortage? Connect with us at

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