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  • Future Hopes: Employment (Public domain)Source: Public domain
Australia's jobs are undergoing major changes. The recent slowdown of the mining boom, demographic shift towards aging population and construction boom are key factors that are changing Australia's labour market. What challenges and opportunities will Australian jobs face over the next 40 years?
Olga Klepova / SBS Radio

21 Sep 2015 - 10:45 AM  UPDATED 23 Sep 2015 - 2:06 PM


Australia's jobs are undergoing major changes.

The recent slowdown of the mining boom, demographic shift towards aging population and construction boom are key factors that are changing Australia's labour market.
What challenges and opportunities will Australian jobs face over the next 40 years? Olga Klepova finds out.

Australia is facing a shortage of nurses and teachers with a considerable percentage of current employees nurses and teachers approaching retirement age.

The national workforce agency Heath Workforce Australia predicts we'll have a shortfall of 109 thousand nurses by 2025.

NSW government data shows in 2013 around 17 per cent of all teachers reached retirement age with a further 18 per cent to do so in the next five years.

Every year there are 300 thousand  babies born in Australia.

Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, says the demand for qualified nurses, tutors and tertiary education providers will only grow.

"Projections are for significant growth in health care, social and personal assistance type care around 20 per cent growth potentially across the Australian economy. In education and training around 16 per cent growths over that next five year period. For professional services or scientific and technical services around 15 per cent growth."

Job advertising site Seek says the number of ads for education sector jobs is up 4 per cent year on year.

Apart from the demographic factor that largely impacts health care and education industries, there are two other major drivers of change shaping Australian labour market.

Seek Communications Manager Sarah Macartney says digitalisation and interest rates form a platform that are boosting certain industries.   

"The demand for design and architecture based skills set is actually up 26 per cent year on year, which is primarily driven through the historical low interest rates which we are seeing."

The IT sector encompasses many different computer related sectors including computer science and digital technologies including design and web development.

The development of the digital world has affected all industries and has not only transformed some roles, but added new roles that didn't exist five years ago.

Sarah Macartney says social media has become an essential tool for retailers to communicate and market to customers.

"The rise of social media is having a real impact on all industries really. And again small businesses are using social media for marketing and branding purposes. It's also being used for sales as well as huge increase for customer service; so we are actually seeing a lot of social media behaviour to actually manage customer service related issues."

When it comes to digital changes in the all sorts of industries, the need for technologically and IT savvy specialists is obvious.

Francis Norman says that the demand for traditional mechanical or civil engineers has been outnumbered by the need for IT focused specialists.

"There is certainly there is lot more technology now, there is lot more demand for people who are electronics engineers, computer engineering, controls, process modelling - those are opportunities that will end help the resources companies make their facilities more efficient. "

But looking into future the Western Australian Division President for Engineers Australia says it is the matter of strategic thinking that will play a crucial part.

"A lot of what's going to be needed from engineers is the ability to think strategically about where the future lead, what the future need of our society will be, what our future infrastructure needs will be when we have cars to drive themselves, when we have trucks to drive themselves. Do we need the same types of roads, do we need car parking and things like that. The differences into the changes will be huge and the engineers will needed to be a large part of what happens in terms of making all of that change a reality."

Senator Birmingham says that while there is digital impact across many industries, it is not about exterminating some kinds of jobs, but about changing the nature of the business.

For example the new key player on the taxi market Uber that has swop the whole industry with its online booking and payment system.

Or the accommodation market that had to adapt to accessible home stay type accommodation available through online aggregators.  

"That type of digital disruption will really impact on businesses quite significantly but as I said many of the jobs associated with that might change in the way they operate, but the jobs themselves will probably still be there for some time to come. We'll still need people and want people driving cars and driving people around but the way we book them and the way we access them might change quite dramatically so it really is a case of jobs needing to evolve and adapt with the changes in technology the changes in consumer taste, changes in demographic in Australia."

One job sector that's likely to contract, not grow, is Australia's iconic mining industry.

"The mining and resource and energy sector has seen continuing decline over the last 12 to 24 months of the back of the decline in investment in mining. This is particularly challenging for the Western Australian economy which is struggling to recover overall growth due to the significant reliance it had on the mining sector."

While admitting they are looking at a reduction in personnel, Western Australian Division President for Engineers Australia, Francis Norman says it's not the biggest challenge the engineering industry is facing.

He says, engineers with transferable skills are either finding a job in another industry or moving overseas where mining is still booming.

It is the overall shortage of skilled engineers that is still the issue.

"Typically at the moment we had seeing a decline in the overall number of engineers working in Australia. We have more engineers typically retiring and leaving the profession than we have graduating and moving to Australia from other parts of the world. Yet we still have more or less the same numbers of jobs needed."

Not only engineers, trade workers will become rarer in Australia.

The Department of Immigration has recognised the need.

In their latest Skilled Occupation list for potential skilled migrants, they've added trade roles like panel beaters, locksmiths, bricklayers and cabinet makers.

Senator Birmingham says there is a constant demand for people in these areas.

"Australia has many wonderful trades people who are the back bone in many aspects of parts of our economy. But there is always a demand for new people in these areas."

Senator Birmingham says the Federal Government's recent six billion dollar investment in vocational education and training will help address the skill shortage.

He says it is a large support for local apprenticeship system that will provide more opportunities for young Australians.

"Our new 200 million dollar per annum Australian support network which is designed to insure that we attract and train and retain apprentice throughout their apprenticeship and increase the completion rates of apprenticeships which have sat at an unsatisfactory level of 50 per cent. Big bucks in terms of investing that 6 billion dollars per annum bur a really critical support to Australia's economy to ensure we have the skills needed into the future."

The growth of the digital industry has been accompanied by a growth of online education; obtaining a qualification online has shifted the traditional idea of a university degree.

People tend to learn at a convenient pace and time via internet more often.

Seek's Sarah Macartney says that in the world of fast progressing technologies sometimes a degree studied for several years can become out-dated too quickly.

"People are looking to get qualifications based specifically on where their career wants to go. Historically we've moved from a secondary or high school education and have gone straight to a university degree only to find in 10 years later we are working in a very different area and perhaps our qualifications aren't as relevant. With a diploma and undergraduate courses that are available online, are far more accessible to working Australians both regionally and based metro. We're seeing demand for this online career-related learning actually increased."