Having recently arrived back from a trip to Europe, I had the opportunity to observe what was happening in places like France, Spain and the UK. What was particularly interesting was seeing for myself what impact the Debt Crisis has had on some of the EU’s largest economies, and from an employment point of view what opportunities, or lack thereof were available.

Take Spain as an example, unemployment figures released during October show that nearly 5 million people are unemployed which represents approximately 21% of their workforce. This is the highest in the eurozone and at this stage doesn’t look like it will be reducing any time soon. I happened to speak to someone who was working at a Hostel in Barcelona and with a degree in Economics and Physics; clearly had some good credentials, however had no hope of securing anything other than casual work in the hospitality industry. He said that if he thinks he has the skills for a particular finance job, there is probably another 20 with the same credentials and in the same situation.

During my time in the UK, I managed to catch up with some old friends and former colleagues who still work in the Recruitment Industry however don’t actually recruit for jobs in the local market. Their attentions have been focused offshore in places such as the Gulf and Middle East where despite recent turmoil, good employment opportunities exist and have allowed them to continue operating despite the distance. Whilst the UK isn’t suffering to the same degree as Spain, times are tough and confidence is not great.

So upon returning to Brisbane, it was interesting to see the opposite here in Australia, where recent figures suggest unemployment is around 5.2% with a solid display of new jobs being created not just in the Mining sector, but also in other industries where business confidence seems to be high and continuing in this direction. This is an opportune time for Australia and for businesses to not only grow and take advantage of the good market conditions, but also an opportunity to hire new staff from within Australia or potentially from abroad where talented staff exist and willing to make the move down under.

For businesses going into 2012,the challenge will be competing with other firms to capture those in demand candidates, and to retain them long term during this buoyant

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time. And for us here at Optimum, we will continue to work hard to enable our clients to do exactly that.

Tim Hooper – Team Leader

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