With the national unemployment rate hitting a 12-year high in January, workers in many industries find their jobs under threat from a sluggish economy.
But as the traditional sources of employment like manufacturing wind down, there is hope for young people entering the job market and for those looking to change careers.
The jobs market of tomorrow is starting to take shape.
Much has been made of the end of the mining boom, but its impact has been “very much exaggerated”, says an employment market expert. Most of the jobs in mining are in the construction phase, which was always going to end.
“All the jobs in Australia are really in the service sector – in retail, finance, and health and community services in particular, especially as the population gets older,” says Phil Lewis, director of the Centre for Labour Market Research at the University of Canberra.
Employment trend expert Trudy Steinfeld from New York University agrees that the service sector will boom in developed countries like the US and Australia.
Technology, social media, public health and accounting will be other growth areas, says Professor Lewis, along with entirely new sectors “we haven’t fully imagined yet”.
For example, the World Economic Forum has predicted that new technologies such as electric vehicles, 3D printing and water purification will see growth.
The concern is that the march of progress will disadvantage some types of workers. For example, technology seems to be destroying medium-skilled jobs like office workers, leaving behind low-skilled manual labour and complex jobs like surgeons, lawyers and scientists, says Centre for Workplace Leadership director Peter Gahan, from The University of Melbourne.
“Technology is really beginning to change patterns of job creation and destruction,” he says.
By 2030, recruiting firm Hays, with help from Oxford Economics, has predicted that financial services, healthcare and infrastructure will continue to dominate, but also that green energy will come to the fore.
“Climate change will lead to job creation in the development of green energy sources and in occupations needed to mitigate the impacts of global warning,” says Hays Australia and New Zealand managing director Nick Deligiannis.
In the short term, the services sector seems likely to see the most growth.
Aged or disabled carer
As Australians get older, a great many more health care workers are likely to be hired to meet their needs, both in-home and at aged care facilities.
This work includes physical care, such as helping the patient dress, go to the bathroom and shop, as well as emotional assistance.
As the demands on the health sector increase, more nurses will be needed in a variety of facilities, such as hospitals and community health centres, as well as aged care facilities.
As well as helping doctors and surgeons, these workers can also provide front-line care to patients.
The obesity crisis seems to be worsening at the same time as society grows ever more infatuated with physical perfection.
As more and more people try to stay fit and attractive into older age, the demand for personal trainers is likely to increase.
As technology advances and standards of living remain high, Australians will have even more time for entertainment.
Someone has to ensure that event goers have an enjoyable time and that the many festivals and concerts are well organised.
Special education teacher
Australia continues to have one of the worst literacy rates in the developed world. As the population grows, more students may slip through the cracks and need special assistance.
These teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning and other disabilities.
Australia is a nation of sport lovers. It stands to reason that this passion will only increase with time, as the various leagues and codes expand and monetise.
While the average wage seems low, those who make it to the top, especially those who go on to represent Australia overseas, can expect enormous salaries.
Most health care sectors can expect job growth in the years to come, but the Department of Employment is predicting that these doctors will be in especially high demand.
Specialising in diagnosing and treating conditions of the foot and ankle, these specialists can work in private practise or in government agencies, hospitals and podiatry colleges.
English as second language teacher
Australia continues to become more ethnically diverse, with English being the non-preferred language for many of these new citizens and residents.
It stands to reason that economic migrants and asylum seekers will need assistance in learning to read, speak and spell their new national language.