Iron and Interns

Posted by David Jenkins

What do the two have to do with one another? One observation between the two we’ve noticed over the past 12 months is that the price of iron ore began to drop to a 3 year low at the time when a lot of companies began recruiting their interns in July and August 2012.

Compare this again to 2011 when the price was at all time highs. And now where we’ve been getting close again to the low point of 2012. The Australian economy has more to it than one commodity, however iron ore and the China slow down seem to be the most newsworthy and have a large effect on the general optimism of Australia’s economic future.

From our observations over the past 3 years we’ve generally noticed when the iron ore price is up, recruitment across the private sector (not just mining) increases along with larger intakes for intern/vacation programs.

Price of Iron Ore and Intern Recruitment Season

Price of Iron Ore and Intern Recruitment Season

As the chart shows interns tend to be being recruited when the iron ore price has been towards it’s lowest over a 12 month average. Anecdotally we’ve noticed that the number of positions employers have open for interns has decreased over the past three years, and some intern programs have stopped entirely.

On the student side the numbers have been consistent based on the number of students we’ve had searching online. Below are our site numbers over the past 3 years:

Iron and Intern

What can you take away as a graduate recruiter from all of this? If you want to have a general idea of how many positions will be on the market and how competitive it will be to get the top students, follow the iron ore price. This year you should have a pool of great candidates and perhaps not enough roles, however the volatility of commodity prices and having to recruit far in advance of the rest of the business makes life challenging for graduate recruiters.


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