The federal government’s latest Australian Jobs publication presents an overview of the current labour market, highlighting major changes as they relate to various industries and occupations. It notes that despite considerable job growth since 2015, some challenges remain — particularly for young and mature age jobseekers. Looking towards 2020, it is pleasing to see that most industries will continue to experience growth.
How does the labour market look today?
There are around 11.9 million people employed in Australia. More than two thirds are employed full time, while 46 per cent are female. Around 39 per cent of workers are aged 45 years and over, with young jobseekers — those aged 15 to 24 — accounting for a further 16 per cent. Almost a third work in regional areas.
Overall, almost two thirds (63 per cent) of those in the workforce hold a qualification at or above certificate III level. Of these, 31 per cent have completed a bachelor degree or higher. The ACT has the highest proportion of higher education graduates, at 43 per cent. It is followed by Victoria (34 per cent) and New South Wales (33 per cent).
Of the 19 broad industries, the top four currently account for 40 per cent of employment. This includes Health Care and Social Assistance (1.5 million workers), Retail Trade (1.3 million), Construction (1 million) and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (1 million). The industries with the smallest workforce include Information Media and Telecommunications (219,800 workers); Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services (216,800); and Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services (139,600).
Employment grew in most industries over the five years to 2015. The largest number of jobs were created in:
- Health Care and Social Assistance
- Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
- Education and Training.
Four industries recorded a fall in employment, including:
- Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
- Wholesale Trade
- Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services.
… and by 2020?
Looking toward 2020, we can expect to see employment growth in all states and territories. New South Wales will record the most significant growth, at almost 10 per cent.
Which industries and occupations are set to grow by 2020?
Employment is predicted to rise in 16 of the 19 industries over the five years to November 2020. The industry area projected to experience the greatest growth is Health Care and Social Assistance, adding 250,200 jobs by 2020 (at 23 per cent of total new jobs). Professional, Scientific and Technical Services is also set to grow significantly — with 151,200 new jobs — with Education and Training (121,700) and Retail Trade (106,000) up next.
There’s also some good news for the younger generation, with industries typically employing large numbers of young people (15 to 24 years) set to experience solid growth to 2020. This includes Retail Trade, Accommodation and Food Services, and Construction. Collectively, these industries will add almost 300,000 new jobs over the next five years.
The largest number of new jobs are expected in the following occupations:
- General Sales Assistants (65,800 new jobs by 2020)
- Registered Nurses (51,400)
- Aged and Disabled Carers (43,000)
- Child Carers (39,000).
Which occupations will decline by 2020?
There’s good news overall, as Labourers is the only occupation group projected to decline by 2020. This amounts to 14,600 fewer jobs. There is a small number of Labourer sub-categories set to experience growth, including Food Preparation Assistants (up by 11,200) and Construction and Mining Labourers (up by 7400).
Australian Jobs also looks at the future of work, recognising that the labour market will continue to change. It considers ‘megatrends’ — major changes that will reshape business and policy. The trends set to affect labour market change include:
- growth in computing power, connectivity, data volumes and artificial intelligence
- changing employment markets and organisational structures
- greater entrepreneurship
- divergent demographics
- continued growth of the service sector.
It notes that these megatrends will impact the ways in which people manage their careers (and those of their children), as well as how companies manage their workforces and how governments regulate and manage the labour market. Several issues are highlighted, with much focus on the growing importance of continued education and training, digital literacy and STEM. This adds to the need for new aptitudes and mindsets to handle a more dynamic labour market — including resilience, buoyancy and entrepreneurial capabilities — and development of ‘tapered retirement models’ that productively harness the skills of older workers and ensure positions are available for younger labour market entrants.
A further consideration is how workforce demographics will shift over time. In the next decade, it’s expected that Australia’s workforce will be older and more culturally diverse. By 2035, nearly one in five Australians will be 65 years or older. Task automation is also on the radar, which looks at the extent to which robots and software will be able to take on the work of humans.
Further information on the changing workforce is available in another report, Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce — Megatrends and Scenarios, available from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) at www.csiro.au.