The Big Gig: Exploring the emerging Labour Hire trend in Australia

Kangaroos, corals and cricket—just a few things that come to mind when someone mentions Australia. This country has such a dynamic personality and identity that it's undoubtedly one of the most desirable places to live. With a plethora of thriving industries spanning across manufacturing, tourism, healthcare, media, entertainment, mining, and agriculture, it's an epicentre for opportunities. Australia's booming gig economy, also known as labour hire, is also a phenomenon to witness. While our previous blog discussed an overview of the gig economy globally, we'd be turning the spotlight on Australia this week.

In recent years, Australia has seen substantial growth in its gig economy. More and more people are preferring contract work, so businesses are now shifting towards employing on-demand seasonal workers to cover unplanned absences and expenses. With labour hire agencies having access to extensive databases of temp workers with various skills, qualifications, and experiences, it's easier than ever to have a suitable worker available for clients.

Labour hire firms making it big

In 2016 alone, there were an estimated 5,800 labour hire firms in Australia, generating a total revenue of approximately $18.5 billion. By 2020, those numbers have multiplied. A recent study conducted by the Australian government celebrated a drop in the unemployment rate from 5.2% to 5.1%. Much of this drop was due to the rise in part-time employment since full-time employment actually decreased.

Full-time vs. part-time 

Australia is not new to labour hiring. The concept of contract employment dates back to the 1950s and has been an integral part of the country's workforce lifestyle ever since. Studies conducted by the id community, an information base for over 250 local government areas in Australia and New Zealand, said that by 2016, "over 10,683,838 people living in Australia were employed, of which 62% worked full-time and 36% part-time."

An article published by Business Insider stated that "by April 2019, full-time employment fell by 6,300 in Australia, masked by a larger lift of 34,700 in part-time workers." This clearly indicates a mindset shift towards a more flexible workstyle.

Labour hire is not just a business practice. Agencies that employ temp workers also make them ready to overcome employment challenges. They train individuals with suitable skills, ensure they are certified, and then place them with respective clients. With both the pace at which the temp workforce is growing and the corresponding demand from clients, labour hire agencies must equip themselves to schedule temps efficiently.

Challenges aplenty

Temp staffing agents are struggling to keep up with the speed and complexity of labour hiring. An observed trend in Australia's mining industry is the need to save funds and prepare for industry fluctuations. This pressures labour hiring agencies to be lean and efficient when staffing. They must be able to quickly scale the workforce up and down according to client needs.

The vigorous vetting process for workers ensures clients receive those workers who are best qualified for the job and match their expectations. Moreover, workers are hired on lease or on a contract basis, providing them with more flexibility in their work life. They find it easy to fit these job opportunities into their busy schedules and earn an additional income.

Finding refuge in technology

Having a software solution introduces transparency into the system. Additionally, a sophisticated worker-client database in your labour hire software helps you maintain working relationships that last. Automated timesheets, streamlined shift-scheduling with invoicing, overtime pay calculations, and more are the added benefits of digitizing the labour hiring process. Furthermore, a software solution for a labour hire firm can improve efficiency and productivity by saving time, money, and effort.

On a concluding note, founder of Fancy Hands, Ted Roden mentioned, "People tend to forget to do things here and there when it comes to hiring temps. Our computers do not."


This article is the first of "The Big Gig" series featuring Australia. In our next week special, we will be discussing Japan's experience with the gig economy. To help international recruiting agencies prepare for the evolving labour market, our subsequent posts will shed light on the gig economy trend, its gaining momentum, and what temporary staffing agencies can expect in 2020. 

Are you a labour hiring agency looking for a software solution? We've got you.


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