HSE job opportunities: demand outstrips supply

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Friday, 3 June, 2022 - 12:30
Industry news
National News

Persistent talent shortages are driving strong growth in the workplace health, safety and environment (HSE) employment market, according to a recent analysis.

“In the normal course of events, federal elections and international uncertainty put a hold on the job market, but not this time around,” said Aaron Neilson, CEO of The Safe Step, which conducts the National HSE Job Opportunities Index.

HSE job opportunities rose 17.7 per cent in the 12 months to April and the index sits at 182.4, which is just a fraction below the record established in November last year.

Most major sectors have grown strongly over the past 12 months, and opportunities in professional services, mining and manufacturing all grew by more than 30 per cent over the corresponding period.

The Safe Step HSE Opportunities Index saw all occupational groups exhibit strong demand but the standout was for early-career roles, while HSE coordinator level roles are a record high level.

Demand over the past 12 months for HSE coordinators is up 180 per cent compared to this time last year.

This would seem to indicate that most companies have decided at the same time to “grow their own” after 12 months of searches for experienced talent.

At the end of the reporting period on a single day, there were more than 1363 safety advisor positions and 1394 safety coordinator roles advertised nationally on SEEK.

Supply at this level in the market is not able to keep up so the talent shortage currently is being shifted from one organisation to the next when candidates decide to make a move.

We’re seeing a game of musical chairs unfold. One business’ talent solution quickly becomes another’s problem,” said Neilson.

“There’s no short-term fix for talent shortages. Some organisations are making trade-offs in terms of remuneration.

“Others are looking to ‘grow their own’, investing in internal graduate and development programs. Either way, there’s a trade-off,” said Neilson.

Opportunities volumes are low at the HSE executive level but the pandemic has been beneficial for those at the most senior level of the profession.

Demand has more than doubled over the two years of the pandemic and grew by 46 per cent over the past 12 months. The pace of growth has however slowed (to just 8 per cent) in the latest three-month period.

The most significant rise in the last three months was a 39 per cent rise for environmental specialists.