Finance Work The future of work: Here’s how the job market of 2034 looks

The future of work: Here’s how the job market of 2034 looks

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A growing middle class in China and India and a technology-mad society here is set to create a raft of new jobs in Australia in the next two decades, according to economic experts. 

IBISWorld chairman Phil Ruthven predicts an influx of tourists from an increasingly wealthy Chinese middle class.

“The cost of fares is not going to be a deal-breaker for newly emerging affluent Chinese, and Indians as well,” he says.

In 2012, around 700,000 Chinese tourists visited Australia, spending more than $4 billion, federal government figures show, with visitor numbers set to increase by 20 per cent a year.

Airplane manufacturer Boeing has also earmarked China as one of its biggest growth areas, predicting the country’s airline fleet will need to triple over the next 20 years to keep up with demand.

“We could expect spectacular growth in the hospitality sector over the next 20 years,” says Ruthven.

Food bowl

The rising middle class in Asia, but particularly in economic powerhouses China and India, could also create demand for more high quality food from Australia, such as meat, fish, grain and produce, says Associate Professor Elisabetta Magnani, of the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales.

And that in turn will help spark changes in the way products are grown and produced.

“Traditionally we haven’t really seen a great deal of technological change in agriculture, not in the massive way that we would have expected by now,” she says. “That opens up many, many new jobs.”

“I see lots of jobs in biotech, particularly agriculture.”

Supplying food to Asia will be big business in Australia. Photo: Shutterstock

High tech

Advances in technology will also continue to create new professions and transform existing ones.

Dr Magnani predicts that jobs traditionally handled by IT departments, such as dealing with computer viruses, will become stand-alone jobs. Cyber police will also be needed in great numbers to combat an increasing number of scams, she says.

Associate Professor Nick Parr, of Macquarie University’s Faculty of Business and Economics, says an ageing population will also spark technological advances.

“The needs of the older population might affect the types of technologies which it’s profitable to invest in.”

That might include technology to assist with disabilities in some way.

Getting healthy

Also in the health area, Phil Ruthven says Australia will need “operators for machines that haven’t been invented yet”.

In the past five years, Australia has recorded huge growth in the health sector, with 28 per cent of all new jobs created coming from that area, says Ruthven. With an ageing population, that growth is set to continue.

AgingHe predicts that in 20 years Australia will be at the edge of the “wisdom age” where we’ll go beyond just ‘googling’ facts to being able to find solid answers to questions such as “are humans causing global warming?” in a matter of seconds.


“It will generate jobs that we just can’t imagine at this stage.”


He says there also will be a need for people who can translate new technology for the rest of the population. Predicting the exact type of new jobs that will arise is difficult.

“There were not too many people in 1990 that would have predicted what would happen to the internet and the jobs that would come from that,” says Ruthven.

More professional and technical services such as online information, software writing and facilities management will also be needed.

And more jobs are set to be created in the household services area, as Australians continue to outsource more and more household tasks such as lawn mowing, child minding, laundry and paying for holiday accommodation instead of staying with friends.

Ruthven says with one third of traditional household tasks already outsourced, there are still two-thirds to go.

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