Geelong’s transformation has not come unnoticed by local firm Harvest Talent Recruitment and People Solutions. Akin to the canary in the coal mine, recruitment and HR services firms are the first to determine the appetite for employment in a region.

However, Director of Harvest, Maree Herath wanted to confirm where the market was at. Not purely relying on the exposure she and her recruitment and careers specialists glean in their daily activities.

“I opened my doors in 2009” Herath states “…and Geelong’s employment market was grim”. What Herath has witnessed as have many of the region’s business owners is the transformation of the region from a blue-collar heartland to a sophisticated, social insurance and professional services hub. “We have been a beneficiary of this turnaround, but I wanted to learn more” Herath says “I spoke with key representatives from local government, membership bodies and education and found the region had little current business intelligence on employment and HR trends.”

Instead of waiting for the news Herath is now making the news. She along with her committed consulting and support team rose to the challenge of learning what really is going on in Geelong. It was here the Harvest HR Index was born.

Following their key value of “Relentless Pursuit” Harvest sought to complete a trends survey of Geelong’s employers over January and February this year to understand the region’s key employment and HR trends.

Herath reflected that. while intelligence was sought from Geelong’s major employers the company sought to go far and wide, surveying diverse industries from agribusiness, manufacturing and transport, the major banks, the region’s accounting and legal practices as well as a host of professional services firms.

“We surveyed over 120 of Geelong’s employers.” a proud Herath states as she and her team have personally invested more than 2000 hours into the survey process.

Harvest’s HR Index findings will be released to coincide with their brand relaunch at breakfast this Wednesday at Truffleduck in Fyansford. Maree has been generous in offering The Business Beat a preview of the findings.

Of the survey responses 38% of Geelong’s Employers are employing in the June Quarter with a further third of respondents stating their overall employment numbers will remain steady which often means movements within.

“What’s more” Herath states, “the growth is not segmented to one industry or a certain size of employer”.

The Harvest HR index revealed our largest employers are the region’s powerhouses; responsible for employing 1/3 of the region’s upcoming new hires with the most significant demand in health and the social/community sector. The big employers are heralding in change as they hire half of the Data and Business Analysts for the region, 40% of the IT&T specialists and one-third of the region’s semi and unskilled workers.

The region’s medium sized employers will employ the bulk of the region’s sales roles, one-half of the region’s marketing specialists and one-third of the regions’ middle management, finance specialists and semi or unskilled Labour. They will also be employing 25% of the region’s administrative staff and engineering/trades specialists.

Not to be outdone are Geelong’s small employers. While they report hiring, on average, one new hire this coming quarter, this could amount to 1650 jobs created by this sector alone. (*2017 ABS census reported 1649 small businesses in Greater Geelong)

The two sectors that were not necessarily growing amidst our economic prosperity were the public sector (whose growth is attributed to transformation and change) and the leisure, tourism, retail and hospitality sector who are in seasonal decline.

Harvest’s HR Index also showed the tide was turning on the growing global trend of gig economies and casualisation of the workforce, with 60% of our region’s employers seeking stability as they look to hire permanent staff in the June quarter.

Herath has a heart for Geelong. “We have seen the physical transformation of the region”, Herath states, “Now it’s time for the development of our people”. Herath’s aim is simple, “By sharing the employment and HR trend data, employers and other community influencers such as government, education and our commercial bodies are better equipped to respond to challenges and shape the social and sustainable development of our great City.”

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