Demand for executive expertise slumps

by 03 Nov 2011

Demand for the skills of executives has fallen to its lowest level in eight years, as employers are forced to reevaluate their workforce requirements in light of falling economic confidence, according to figures released in a new job index.

Executive search firm E.L Consult conducted the research, and managing director Grant Montgomery said international economic conditions have set the tone for hiring, and commented that executive hiring is more affected by confidence globally than general hiring.

Demand for executive talent plummeted by 17% in October of this year, compared to the 12% fall seen in September. The decrease has meant demand for executive-level expertise in Australia is currently half the level it was at in 2007/08, prior to the GFC.

“There are so many economic accidents waiting to happen around the globe that employers have crawled into their shells,” Montgomery said, adding the “on again, off again” Greek settlement has further complicated the hiring outlook.

The index figures come at the same time as Westpac has flagged the possibility of additional job cuts, after already having cut 767 jobs in fiscal 2011.

Chief executive Gail Kelly announced yesterday the commencement of the next phase in the bank's strategy, which will seek more productivity gains, scale and flexibility from a new business model dubbed “best-sourcing” by the bank.

Kelly said the bank would review its business functions to determine if external suppliers or partners could better manage them.

“It's a sourcing approach to say 'where does work best get done?” she said, adding “Sometimes its best done internally, sometimes it's best done with a partner locally, sometimes its best done with a partner offshore.”

Kelly said the impact of job rearrangements was currently unknown, as positions would be added in some areas and cut in others.

 “Overall we’d expect staff numbers to continue to trend downwards,” Kelly said, adding that Westpac did not expect a backlash from the strategy.

 

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