News National The Stats Guy: What Australia’s five-year employment projections reveal about our future

The Stats Guy: What Australia’s five-year employment projections reveal about our future

Simon Kuestenmacher
The postmodern trend towards deconstructing every concept in sight will be embraced by Gen Z, writes TND's stats guy. Image: TND
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Oh boy, did I get excited during the week. The National Skills Commission published their new five-year employment projections. Let me explain what this data tells us about our future economy.

Our workforce is projected to grow by almost a million people (992,000) over the five years from November 2020 to November 2025.

That figure is a bit weaker than the growth leading up to the pandemic (1,154,000) but it suggests that we should be cautiously optimistic about our economy.

Our transition into a knowledge economy continues. More than half (53 per cent) of the new jobs require a university-level education. These jobs will only be filled if we get a bit of help from abroad via migration. We couldn’t possibly fill these jobs only with local graduates alone.

Currently, 15 per cent of all jobs are part of the middle class (Skill Level 3) but the projected growth falls way short of expectations, as only 7 per cent of new jobs will be middle class.

Healthcare, cybersecurity, and crypto jobs boom

The hollowing-out continues of the Australian workforce into a society of many high-income earners and many low-income earners, flanking an eroding middle class.

The advice to young people graduating from high school remains the same: education pays, get a uni degree. There will be plenty of jobs coming your way.

A quarter of all new jobs fall into the healthcare sector. This astonishing growth is driven by our ageing nation as well as the continued investment in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Employment opportunities are aplenty in the sector – a safe bet for any undecided young people.

The hospitality sector has been hit the hardest by the lockdowns but is projected to have fully recovered by 2025 and even slightly improve on pre-pandemic levels. Australians aren’t giving up the restaurant and pub lifestyle any time soon.

Professional services are adding plenty of jobs too, all of them reserved for highly trained workers. The entry ticket to this massive growth sector remains a university degree. The only sizeable exception being jobs that are so new that there are no relevant degrees to be pursued.

The examples that spring to mind here are cybersecurity and all things cryptocurrency. If you want to enter these fields don’t even think about setting foot into a university but teach yourself relevant skills and you are almost guaranteed to snatch up a well-paying job right away. Talent is extremely rare in these sectors.

Australia’s growth occupations

Now let’s flick through the list of 358 occupations to see where more specific job opportunities might be hiding.

The two biggest growth occupations are aged and disabled carers and registered nurses, which together will grow by over 100,000 jobs.

We are adding about 1000 new carer jobs every single month.

These Skill Level 4 jobs aren’t paying all that well. For low-skilled workers the easiest, albeit risky, way to increase their income is to start their own business.

Considering more elderly retirees will be keen to continue living in their own home, the opportunities for innovative in-home care services are endless.

Savvy carers might be able to service this market and earn much more than they would as a low-level employee.

Nurses will continue to be in high demand – we would expect nothing less in an aging and rich country.

A chronically overworked segment of the healthcare industry, employers that can guarantee some sort of work-life balance to their nurses will win the war for talent in the coming years.

If we sort our occupation list by the rate of growth, we see that 16 of the 20 fastest-growing jobs are Skill Level 1. Healthcare and knowledge work dominate this rating. We don’t worry about the earning capacity for these jobs. Skill Level 1 workers will be just fine.

The workers who deserve a pay boost

The picture is a bit more dire when we look at the jobs that add the largest number of total workers – three of the top five jobs are Skill Level 4 jobs.

These jobs (carers, waiters, general clerks) don’t pay enough to support a family on a single income.

As a society we’d be well advised to pay Skill Level 4 and 5 workers more.

The free market won’t raise pay for these workers, so we must have a serious national discussion about raising the minimum wage. This means that healthcare will need to become more expensive.

You see the implications from this dataset are vast. They offer a glimpse of the potential future of our country. Enterprising minds can use this data to start a successful business, politicians can see the continued hollowing out of the workforce and start campaigning for a liveable minimum wage to ensure that all future workers can benefit from the economic recovery of Australia.

Demographer Simon Kuestenmacher is a co-founder of The Demographics Group. His columns, media commentary and public speaking focus on current socio-demographic trends and how these impact Australia. Follow Simon on Twitter or LinkedIn for daily data insights.

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