Last year was unpredictable and inconsistent in many ways. The boom times of post-Covid fell away leaving the market somewhat brittle and sluggish. In our short opinion piece, Gavin Campbell, VIC General Manager, takes a look market conditions and what trends will shape 2024.

1. Uncertainty in economic conditions, people hesitant to change roles

Over the last 6 months of 2023 and leading into the new year, there has been a real and noticeable decline in people’s appetite and willingness to consider changing roles. Responsiveness to calls and passive reach outs are not anywhere near normal (pre-Covid) levels. There is a real hesitancy there and a large part of this can be put down to the Australian and global economic picture for the next 12 months remaining mixed. Global inflation is predicted to remain at 5% whilst consumers will remain relatively thrifty (The Economist – Nov 13, 2023). These conditions will continue to foster a general hesitancy across the market with people being reluctant to make a move in what is perceived as a riskier climate for changing jobs. We’ve already seen this in the months that closed out 2023. A “wait-and-see” style approach has meant people will avoid making a move until conditions improve. Adding to this is possibly what the market experienced post-COVID, the “The Great Resignation” and the high volume of career moves and transitions from the year before. The need to attract and entice passive candidates will form a key part of hiring strategies in a tighter more competitive labour market.

2. Salaries to hold the line as economic conditions stutter and stammer forward

From the great rises and seemingly endless increases of 2022 to the heavy dips and adjustments of 2023, 2024 appears to be a return to standard operating procedure. Salaries have now seemingly stabilised (sorry everyone). All indicators point to wage growth not outpacing inflation over the next 12 months with relatively subdued growth across industries. Strong growth in the September quarter of 2023 does seem like an outlier and largely driven by increases in minimum and award wages ( – Nov 15, 2023). This growth will not be repeated into the new year. Anecdotally and across industries, we have seen wages settle and anticipate this to continue into 2024. Good news for employers and possibly even recruiters who spent a large portion of time managing over heated expectations.

3. Unsurprisingly, demand for cyber resources will continue to grow

If you haven’t been spammed, hacked or phished recently, you are part of the growing minority. Cases of personal and commercial cyber-attacks will continue to rise next year as will demand for infosec and cyber specialists. Whilst there is a growing awareness off the risks associated with online activity through breaches like the Optus and Medibank ones, it is rather concerning that experts say that 70 per cent of passwords used by Australians can be cracked in less than a second, with “123456”, “admin”, “password” and “qwerty123” among the nation’s most used passwords (The Age – Jan 2, 2024). Corporates and C-Suite will remain focused on ramping up cyber capability and maturity with demand for Security Operations Analysts, Penetrations Testers and DevSecOps specialists some of the most in demand in this space. Threat management and handling a key element of cyber strategies ( – CEO Outlook, Oct 2023).

4. The Flexibility Debate continues…. 2 versus 3, 3 versus 2, the push to have people in the office

The challenge to find the balance of what best suits your organisation and its people will continue. Large corporates like NAB and CommBank have settled on 50% whilst government agencies have also offered employees the chance to balance their weeks in office and in home. The debate does seem to be changing shape and evolving over time. I also see it as being sometimes situational. Software developers and highly technical people will sometimes prefer the seclusion of working from home whilst the the recently employed graduate that has a million and one questions may not. In a possible sign of things to come, two-thirds of global CEOs agree that in three years’ time white-collar roles will return to the office – with only a small number believing it will be hybrid or completely remote ( – CEO Outlook, Oct 2023). The recent push and drive from tech behemoths Zoom, Salesforce and Tesla to get people back in the office may be helping shape these opinions. The debate continues….