Marketing skills recession a reality while marketers want pay to keep up with inflation says Hays study

A marketing skills recession is upon us, according to the Hays Salary Guide FY23/24, as almost nine in ten (88%) organisations in Australia are experiencing a skills shortage.

Recruitment and workforce solution specialist Hays said 40% of employers agree that this shortage has intensified over the past 12 months.

The top factors driving employee turnover in the Australian marketing industry are uncompetitive salaries, a lack of promotional opportunities and the rising cost of living.

Photo: Rodeo Project Management Software on Unsplash

Matthew Dickason, CEO Asia Pacific at Hays, said: “Australia’s skills shortage narrative is well entrenched in our labour market, but this year our survey shows its impact continues to intensify in many industries.

76% of Australian marketers think pay rises should keep up with inflation, with 55% planning to ask for a pay rise. 97% of Australian employers plan to offer higher salaries, to counteract the looming possibility of a skills recession.

Source: Hays Salary Guide [click to enlarge]

Dickason said, “There’s growing concern among employers about the lack of skilled professionals in today’s labour market. Despite these challenges, vacancy activity remains remarkably resilient. After normalising from last year’s historic peak, today’s headcount expansion plans suggest current economic uncertainty will not impact all workforces.”

63% of employers said the impact will be felt greatest on productivity, while 62% said it would increase workloads for existing staff. 44% agreed the impact would be felt through employee turnover, while 41% said revenue and profit, as well as customer service (41%).

“It’s clear we’re heading for a skills recession as a shrinking talent pipeline threatens the effective operation and growth plans of organisations,” he said. “With the skills shortage predicted to last well into the 2030s, employers must guard against the long-term impact.”

The Salary Guide outlined the common actions employers are taking to addressing the shortage, including 75% of employers offering higher salaries and 62% upskilling employees. Meanwhile, 37% of employers are considering employing, or sponsoring, overseas candidates, up from last year’s 7%.

“Naturally, salaries have been affected,” said Dickason. “It’s well known that salary is the most significant factor in talent attraction and retention, but it’s not the whole picture…Employers must also see beyond the numbers and consider the ’emotional salary’ they offer, consisting of the right mix of benefits, work-life balance, upskilling and personal fulfillment.”

Other actions include DE&I initiatives, simplifying recruitment processes, and improving employer branding.

The key drivers of the shortage, according to Hays, are lack of experience/qualifications (77%) and increased competition from competitors (64%).

Dickason said while it is still important to invest in their own strategies, employers must take a more collaborative approach to tackling the issue.

“Employers must take a wider view and work together to address the skills shortage crisis,” he said.

“The issue of skills shortages isn’t specific to one organisation or industry but is a systemic problem impacting the entire labour market. We must shift mindsets and collaborate to address skills shortages collectively.

“These findings highlight the need for employers, the government and educational institutions to work together to address the root causes of the skills shortage, and build a strong future workforce,” he concluded.

The Hays Salary Guide is based on a survey, conducted in March 2023, of 6,903 organisations and 7,392 professionals. 66% of organisations that participated are in the private sector, while 28% are public, and 6% are charity of ‘for purpose’.


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