Hoping to land the ultimate job – and corresponding pay packet – in the next decade? Then you’d better choose your job, and industry, carefully.
The average Australian wage is expected to rise slowly in coming years – from $4,471 per month in 2011 to $4,818 per month by 2030, according to global analysis by big four accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released late last year.
PwC partner and economist Jeremy Thorpe said when the report was released in October that Australia had benefited from the mining boom and a depressed global economy: “In relative terms, we’ve had it as good as it gets”.
And according to the PwC analysis, our real wages and standard of living will keep falling compared to other economics unless Australia can increase its productivity.
JP Morgan chief economist Stephen Walters says that wages growth in Australia right now is at the lowest it has ever been.
“For most of [the past decade], you had very big increases in the mining industry,” he says.
The resources boom led to huge pay increases in related industries such as transport and logistics, he adds.
Mr Walters says that prior to the global financial crisis, the banking system was also keeping its many employees well-rewarded.
However, the GFC, combined with changes in the industrial relations landscape, such as more centralised bargaining and a bigger role for trade unions, had taken their toll in many areas.
Industries such as maritime and construction have benefited from salary increases, while those in manufacturing have increasingly suffered from competition offshore.
Retail workers’ wages have also flat-lined, as the industry copped it on two fronts – offshore competition and online shopping.
When competition becomes much tougher, it also becomes much harder for employees to “stomp into the boss’ office” and demand a pay rise, Mr Walters says.
“It’s all very well to talk about the union’s role in the industrial relations landscape and so on, but it comes down to the strength of the labour market.”
Meanwhile, mining – such a powerhouse for most of the past 10 years – started to come off the boil about a year ago.
“The mining boom was a 10-year story: the downside of that boom is probably a 10 year story as well,” says Mr Walters.
So, to the main question – where can you find a job poised for wages growth in the 10 years?
Mr Walters expects there might be potential for wages growth in two increasing areas of demand: healthcare and education.
However, rapid growth might be tempered by the government’s influence in these sectors, he adds.
Nick Parr, an associate professor in the faculty of business and economics at Macquarie University, also points to the growing number of health-related jobs.
Analysts who are able to interpret highly complex technical information may also be in high demand – and should be remunerated accordingly, he says.
Other predicted hot-spots for wages growth are agribusiness, gas, tourism, international education or wealth management. That’s of course if you have specialised skills that are in high demand.
Deloitte, another big four accounting firm, predicts that these “super-growth” sectors will be worth an extra $250 billion to Australia’s economy over the next 20 years and will be the keys to the nation’s future prosperity as the mining boom tapers off.
Chris Richardson, co-author of Deloitte report Positioning for Prosperity? Catching the next wave, says that Australia needs new growth drivers to stay prosperous, and cannot rely on natural resources alone.
Chairman of The Futures Foundation Charles Brass has a different take on wages growth, preferring to focus instead on ‘income’.
“That’s because the group that is going to have the biggest rise in income are these people who can cope best in a modern, freelance, outsourced world,” he says.
Brass says everything from Hollywood films to major construction projects are now being largely carried out by teams of contractors.
He believes that among those earning the most in 10 years’ time will be the people who can successfully sell themselves as the product.
“You’ve got to have three things – one, you need a specialised skill. Two, people need to be able to find you with that skill, and thirdly, the really important thing is you need to be able to psychologically cope with the fact your income’s going to be lumpy.”
• Education (especially international education)
• Wealth management