Australia’s labour market is constantly evolving. Some occupations emerge and thrive (we’ll get into the resilient roles below). Meanwhile others, such as secretaries and personal assistants, wither or sometimes even disappear. Australia’s demographics—including population growth and the ageing of the population—will be two key factors driving Australia’s labour market over the coming decade.
So too will new technologies. The impact of technology on the Australian labour market tends to be quite gradual. Indeed, when it comes to new technologies the past can be a good indicator of what the jobs of the future will be. Occupations or industries that have flourished over the past decade are likely to either be resistant to new technologies or to complement them.
In the coming years, the vast majority of employment growth will be in service sector industries—occupations providing a wide range of personal or business services. An ageing population, led by the ongoing retirement of the ‘baby boomers’, will create huge demand for healthcare and aged care services. While strong population growth and an emphasis on continuous learning will require thousands of new teachers to meet demand.
Bearing in mind Australia’s demographics and technological change, we have compiled a list of industries that are set to take off over the next decade. To be clear, if you don’t work in these occupations (or aren’t hiring for roles in these fields) don’t despair! While this list features occupations that are likely to boom, they are by no means the only jobs that are likely to do well in the coming years.
Examining the past decade, marketing has been one of Australia’s fastest growing occupations. Employment in marketing has increased by a remarkable 6.5% a year over the period. Or in other words, that’s an extra 36,000 people working in marketing and advertising.
Advertising is everywhere, it is unavoidable, and businesses are finding and testing innovative ways to reach new audiences. This always-on approach is what underpins the demand for marketing professionals. Importantly, as a creative occupation, jobs in marketing are likely to prove resistant to automation, robotics and artificial intelligence, making it a pretty safe job of the future.
What makes it so future-proof, you ask?
The reason is simple: marketing relies extensively on ‘soft’ skills, such as creativity, critical thinking and an understanding of the human condition. Skills that are (at least so far), difficult to replicate through technology. If anything, new technologies are likely to open the door for new and innovative ways to advertise—imagine marketing today without social media influencers.
According to the World Economic Forum, marketing is set to be one of the strongest growth occupations worldwide. No matter the region there is huge and growing demand for marketing professionals. So those who specialise in marketing will find opportunities not just in Australia, but across the globe.
Australians are collectively getting older and the country’s ageing population has had a huge impact on employment. Employment in healthcare has increased, on average, by 4.4% a year over the past decade. By comparison, total employment has increased by 1.6% a year over that period.
In 2007, around 13% of Australia’s population was over the age of 65. By 2017, that had increased to 15% and it is expected to rise to 20% by 2037. Our shifting demographics is creating huge demand for healthcare services and feeding into related industries such as aged care services more broadly, and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
What is particularly interesting about the healthcare sector is that the demand for workers is up across the board. The number of people working as medical practitioners has increased 5.6% a year over the past decade, for midwifery and nursing it is 4.3%, while for health therapy and diagnostics employment gains are 4% a year. The entire healthcare system is expanding, creating opportunities for healthcare workers across a wide range of skill-sets.
Nothing is more certain regarding the future of work in Australia than the need to train and hire more doctors and nurses (and every other occupation necessary) to deliver world class healthcare and aged care services to Australia’s ageing population.
Hospitality (chefs and food preparation)
The cultural significance of cooking shows such as Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules cannot be denied. These popular television shows have ushered in a generation of Australians who not only appreciate fine dining, but also seek it out at every opportunity. A sausage sizzle might be sufficient on election day (and during a trip to your local Bunnings at the weekend) but increasingly Australians are attracted to the newest flavours and culinary trends.
Over the past decade, the number of people employed as chefs and cooks and in food preparation in Australia has grown by 2.5% a year. Easily exceeding the national average. Employment in these occupations has increased by over 46,000 in the past three years alone.
Strong population growth and Australia’s status as a high-income country will underpin demand for service providers, such as chefs and cooks. We often don’t have the time, or in some cases the skill, for a good home-cooked meal so we’ve collectively outsourced cooking to the experts.
An interesting wrinkle though is the shift towards better qualified food technicians. The number of chefs has increased by 4.8% a year over the past decade, compared with 0.5% annual growth for less qualified cooks. Training and qualifications are increasingly important within this sector and while employment will rise in this steadfast job of the future, it is likely to be centred among those with good training and qualifications.
This increased demand for chefs and cooks will naturally spillover to other related industries. Hospitality could be one beneficiary, so too could the demand for food delivery services.
Strong population growth underpins many of the occupations that are likely to experience future growth. Education and teaching fits squarely within that category.
Education is also one of Australia’s leading exports, ranking third behind only iron ore and coal. Consequently, employment in education services has increased by 2.7% over the past decade—well above the national average.
Another reason why teaching will be a star performer is that education is no longer confined to school and university. Continuous learning is not just a buzzword, but a reality for modern Australian workers. Courses and adult-learning programmes will support education employment above and beyond the natural increase due to a rising population. New technologies will naturally change aspects of teaching, including online courses and technologies within the classroom, but teaching is still an occupation that benefits greatly from what people bring to the profession.
Though, not all teaching occupations have been growing at the same pace. Employment for early childhood education has increased by a remarkable 8.7% a year over the past decade—more than doubling during that time—while employment in tertiary education has increased only modestly. We also see strong demand for private tutors, highlighting the competition among students for good grades.
One thing that seems to hold true for all of these jobs of the future is the importance of soft skills and human involvement. Whilst automation has had a history of displacing people from their jobs in the past and will continue to do so in the future, it appears that the future of work is working with other people.
Callam Pickering is an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab with a focus on Australia.