03 Mar 2022

You may or may not know that Stopgap isn’t just one of the leading Marketing agency recruiters in London UK, but also Australia. As well as our London office in Richmond, Stopgap Australia is based in Sydney. 


In the year 2000, with the Millennium bug a distant memory, Claire opened the Australian office with the intention of capitalising on the fantastic flow of talent within marketing between the two countries. 

22 years on and both offices in London and Sydney are flourishing. But of course, with the global pandemic that fantastic flow of talent has been disrupted over the last couple of years. With both countries now moving out of Covid restrictions (albeit Australia rather more cautiously) we spoke to the team in Sydney, to compare notes on the job market in both countries and our observations of the marketing and agency sectors. 


UK & Australia Labour Markets


Looking first at the labour market in the UK overall, employment continues to rise and unemployment continues to fall - it is now at 4% and according to the ONS the number of people on payroll has again increased from last year. However, hours worked is 3% lower than it was pre-pandemic. 


Payrolled employees - UK
The number of payrolled employees
Monthly change: ^184,000
Since Feb 2020: ^409,000
The number of payroll employees is above pre-pandemic levels
Read more

Job vacancies - UK
Number of job vacancies
Quarterly change: ^128,000
Since Jan-Mar 2020: ^462,000
Vacancies increased on the quarter and continue to be at record levels
Source: ONS Vacancy Survey
Read more


Compare that to Australia, and the most recent data from December 2021 shows employment has increased 1.9% since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The unemployment rate has fallen to 4.2% at the beginning of 2022 indicating a recovery in employment - very much in line with what we are seeing in the UK. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics


Increased Demand on Employees


With flexible hours and working from home becoming the new normal (but equally the boundaries of work time more blurred!), more people are working unpaid overtime in both countries.  In Australia, full-time employees are working 6.91hrs/week of unpaid overtime and 4.55hrs/week for part time employees. Analysis by the TUC of data from the Labour Force Survey found that more than three million UK employees on average worked an extra 7.7 hours per week during 2020, equivalent to £7,300 per person in unpaid overtime.

Source: The Australia Institute Centre for FutureWork


The Great Resignation


In the UK vacancies have risen to record levels and Australia recorded a 18.5% increase since August 2021. Here at Stopgap, we have not observed the “Great Resignation” as it has been predicted by some and the guys in Australia would say the same, although resignation / replacement was reported as the top reason for vacancies down under (77.4%), with increased workload second (45.9%) and expansion of business third (25.7%).

Source: ABS


And according to our colleagues in Australia there are predictions for a huge reset among SMEs, which make up 55% of Australia’s GDP, similar to us in the UK - they are 52% of our GDP. You can read more about this potential reset in a recent blog by our colleagues in Sydney – Work Trends to Look Out for in 2022



Talent Shortage


One thing that there is no doubt about in both the UK and Australia is that we are both experiencing huge talent shortages, and we are working in candidate driven markets. Both of us are really seeing this within the agency space.


Our agency team here in the UK are inundated with roles across the agency landscape, from small boutique independents to the big boys and network agencies. We’ve recently placed numerous candidates in the likes of VCCP, McCann, Ipsos Mori and The & Partnership. Our Head of Agency Victoria Stokes looked at this agency talent shortage in a recent blog post.


Account handling and client services is a particular area where there is a huge demand and a real talent shortage. The positive there for candidates and you, the talent, is that there is a lot of opportunity for career progression and salary increases.


In Australia they have reported that SAMs can now command around $95k pkg, previously $85kpk.


AD salaries are up to $125k pkg, previously $100k-$120k

SAD salaries are up to $145kpkg, previously $120k-$135k


Similar increases can be achieved in the UK as well, so the message to candidates is know your worth! To get an idea of average salaries for all the roles we recruit on, both inhouse and agency side, take a look at our Salary Tool.


In the UK, from our experience, we are also seeing a lack of candidates in specialist digital roles (both in house and agency) - particularly SEO & PPC people and UX and Product Managers. 


In terms of sectors, a real area of growth for us has been within the SaaS and Tech industry, with the likes of PropTech (property) and FinTech driving a lot of our vacancies. 


B2C and the consumer market is quite volatile, understandably the retail and hospitality sectors seem to still be recovering and growth here is slower. 


Over in Australia, they paint a similar picture, telling me:


“There is a real lack of freelance talent within marketing. Advertising and digital and this is largely attributed to border closures and we are hoping the reopening of borders will see an increase in skilled workers. This has been most pervasive amongst Australia’s hospitality and retail industries, which are extremely short staffed at the moment.


Also, there is a lack of talent for in-house roles with similar skills to freelance e.g. Graphic Designers, Videographers, Photographers. Our consultants have found freelancer markets have become less productive so they are now moving in house, which comes with a considerable change and new learning curve. Considering this, clients understand the market and appreciate how challenging it is, so are open to part-time opportunities and more flexible work arrangements.”



They are also seeing growth in similar areas to us: B2B, tech, fintech and property/real estate.


Finally, perhaps in a similar way the UK has seen the impact of Brexit on lower skilled work and entry level roles, Australia are seeing a real shortage of junior talent. This is born out in the introduction of schemes like “Federal Government Job Trainer”, which encourages school leavers and job seekers get fee-free training and part-take in short courses.


With so many similarities between the two countries, I suppose it is no surprise that many trends and observations within the UK and Australian job markets are similar. Particularly in the world we work in - marketing, digital, advertising, and creative.


One thing is certain, with borders opening up and restrictions lifting, the opportunity for talent to flow between the two countries again will return and we are very excited about that, both sides of the Stopgap world!



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