Feature Article: Job starters
This article was published in the October 2005 issue of Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0).
The ABS collects information on people who have started a job in the last 12 months, including information on the characteristics of these people (e.g. age, sex, and information on the type of employment) and the job search techniques which have proved successful in attaining a job. Information obtained on job starters is useful in analysing policy issues such as how to help unemployed people find work. Information on whether these people are taking up part-time work or full-time work is also useful when examining transitions from non-employment to employment.
This article examines the characteristics of job starters with particular focus on the steps taken to attain work. It uses data from the Job Search Experience survey (JSE) which is conducted annually in July as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). (end note 1) Further results may be found in Job Search Experience, Australia (cat. no. 6222.0).
In July 2004, there were 1.6 million employed people who had started their current job in the previous 12 months (job starters). Just over half (52%) changed employer or business to start that job, while 37% were out of work (either unemployed or not in the labour force and had previously held a job for two weeks or more) prior to starting that job and 10% were starting their first job.
Job starters can also be classified into those who have started working for an employer (employees) and those who started work in their own business. The majority (87%) of job starters are employees, and employees will be the main focus of this article.
Those job starters beginning their first job could also be considered to have been out of work prior to starting their current job, given that they were either unemployed or not in the labour force before commencing their current job. However, their absence of previous work experience (not having held a job for two weeks or more) differentiates them from other job starters. Under the framework on which this article is based, they are treated as a separate population group (see figure 1).
In July 2004, there were 1.4 million job starters who were employees (i.e. they worked for an employer). These people tended to be young, with 41% (548,800 people) aged 15-24 years and 27% (362,400 people) aged 25-34 years. This was the same irrespective of whether job starters were out of work prior to starting their current job, or whether they changed employer (see graph 2). In contrast, of those job starters who were starting their first job, just over four-fifths (83%) were aged 15-24 years.
2. Age distribution of employees(a), By prior experience
Just over half (53%) of job starters (who were employees) had completed a non-school qualification. Of those who had completed a non-school qualification, 39% had completed a bachelor degree or higher and a further 31% had completed a certificate III or IV.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of job starters (who were employees) obtained full-time work. Job starters who changed employer were more likely to obtain or continue with full-time work (74%) than those who were out of work prior to starting their current job (59%) and first job starters (41%).
Men were more likely to obtain full-time work than women, with 78% of male job starters starting full-time work compared with 51% of female job starters. Overall, men accounted for 63% of all full-time job starters, while women accounted for 67% of all part-time job starters.
About 59% of first job starters obtained part-time work, reflecting the relatively high participation of young people in education and their tendency to combine work with study. Close to two-thirds (63%) of all first job starters aged 15-19 years and a quarter (25%) of all those aged 20-24 years were engaged in full-time education.
Preference for more hours
In July 2004, nearly four out of every ten (38%) job starters who usually worked part-time indicated that they would prefer to work more hours than they currently worked (see table 3). Close to half (47%) of the men who usually worked part-time wanted more hours compared to 34% of women. A higher proportion of job starters who were out of work prior to starting their current job preferred more hours (43%) compared to other job starters (36% for those who changed employer and 32% for first job starters).
Job starters who usually work part-time are more likely to prefer more hours of work than all employees who work part-time. In July 2004, 38% of job starters preferred more hours compared with 28% of all employees in August 2004. This suggests that some job starters are taking jobs that may not accommodate their preferred working arrangement, but which may be preferable to their current arrangement. Such work may be an interim measure in helping them find a job with the number of hours they would prefer.
3. Proportion of part-time workers who prefer more hours
Job starters who usually work part-time(a)
Out of work
Employees who work part-time(b)
|(a) Job Search Experience Survey, July 2004. |
|(b) Dataset constructed from the Labour Force Survey and Survey of Employee Earnings Benefits and Trade Union Membership, August 2004. |
Looking for work
In the 12 months to July 2004, 862,300 job starters (64%) looked for work before being offered their current job, while a further 491,000 job starters (36%) did not look for work (i.e. they were offered the job by their employer without looking for work). Of those who did look for work, 91% looked for less than one year, with over half of these people (57%) finding work in under two months.
Job starters who were working prior to their current job found their new job more quickly than those who were not working. Close to two-thirds (65%) of job starters who looked for less than one year and changed employer found work in under two months, compared with 54% of those who were out of work prior to starting their current job and 46% of people starting their first job.
Active steps taken to attain job
The ABS collects information on the steps that job starters use to attain a job for those employees who 'approach an employer'. Of the 1.4 million job starters who started working for an employer in the 12 months to July 2004, 75% (one million people) had taken steps to obtain their job. (end note 2) The remaining 25% had not taken steps to look for work but had been approached by their current employer. In the following summary, passive steps (such as looked in newspapers) have been excluded and only active steps are discussed. (end note 3)
The most common active step taken to obtain work by all job starters who approached employers in the 12 months to July 2004 was 'Contacted employer' (wrote, phoned or applied in person) with 78% of job starters (who approached an employer) using this step. The next most common step was 'Answered newspaper advertisement' (43%), followed by 'Contacted friends or relatives' (34%) and 'Answered internet advertisement' (27%). These steps were the same for men and women, however men were more likely to have contacted friends or relatives (38%) than women (31%).
There was a slight difference between the job search steps for older job starters (those aged 55 years and over) and other job starters. Older job starters were more likely to check with a Job Network agency (21%) or check with another employment agency (15%) before they answered an internet advertisement (14%) as a step to attain work.
Job starters who were out of work prior to starting their current job were more likely to have undertaken each of the active steps than first job starters and those who changed employer (see graph 4). The difference was most marked when it came to contacting employers, checking with a Job Network or other employment agency, and answering a newspaper or internet advertisement.
4. Active steps taken to attain job(a), Prior experience of job starters(b)
EMPLOYED IN OWN BUSINESS
Of the 201,600 job starters who began employment in their own business, almost two-thirds (64%) were men. Most job starters employed in their own business were aged either 25-34 years (31%) or 35-44 years (33%). Nearly all (96%) job starters employed in their own business had previous employment experience prior to starting their business (that is, they were not starting their first job). Close to one-third (31% or 62,100 people) of all job starters employed in their own business were out of work prior to starting their current business.
For further information about the statistics on job starters in Australia, please contact Assistant Director, Labour Market Statistics on Canberra (02) 6252 5613.
1. In July 2002, the Job Search Experience survey replaced two supplementary surveys: Successful and Unsuccessful Job Search Experience; and Job Search Experience of Unemployed Persons. See Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001), available from the ABS web site, for further information about these surveys <http://www.abs.gov.au>. < Back
2. Includes 26,200 job starters who did not take any steps to attain a job, but indicated that they had approached an employer. < Back
3. As responses were recorded for all steps taken to attain a job or find work, people may appear in more than one category. For job starters, refers to all steps taken to attain a job, not only the steps taken to attain their current job. < Back