What Occupations does Australia Need?
One of the questions I am most frequently asked in my online seminars is what occupations are in demand in Australia at present. Upon reflection my answer of “everyone” might be a bit too glib but with the unemployment rate hitting the historic low of 3.5% it is not far from the truth. In the next four years Australia will require 1.2 million more workers, mostly skilled to keep up with the labour market demand.
A recent report by the National Skills Commission on employment projections over the next few years to November 2026 provides a more accurate answer. I’ve tried to summarise some of the major findings of that report in this blog.
The report summarises its findings as follows:
“Over the five years to November 2026:
- Employment is projected to increase across all 19 broad industries
- Employment is projected to increase across all 8 broad occupational groups
- 9 in 10 new jobs are projected to require post-school education”
Post school education doesn’t necessarily refer to academic qualifications, some of the occupations and skills most in demand in Australia are technical/trade in nature.
60% of the jobs over the next five years are expected to come from 4 occupational groups namely:
Health care and social assistance
Accommodation and food services
Professional, scientific and technical services
Education and training
More specific reports relating to each of these sectors can be found on the National Skills Commission website.
Occupations with the largest projected employment growth are:
- aged and disabled carers – 28% growth
- software and application programmers – 27% growth
- registered nurses – 13.9% growth
- database and systems administrators and ICT security specialists – 38.9% growth
- management and organisation analysts – 32.2% growth
- solicitors – 21% growth
- human resource managers – 16.3% growth
- welfare support workers – 25.2% growth
- accountants – 9.2% growth
That website does contain a search function where you can search for the forecast growth for a particular occupation and you can find it on the following link.
After reading the report you may come to the same conclusion that just about any occupation is required in Australia so perhaps my answer might not have been so glib.
The challenge for the Australian government will be designing an immigration policy that is capable of targeting the occupations most in demand and employing bureaucrats capable of processing visas quickly enough.
Recent events haven’t inspired confidence in this regard.
Take the skilled independent visa for example. This visa doesn’t require applicants to have offers of employment and is points tested. The points required or pass mark very much depends upon the annual quota of places available for these visas which was cut from 44,984 places in 2013/2014 to just 6500 in the 2020/2021 immigration year. It’s been increased in the current year to 16,500 and rumoured to increase further but the reason it was so drastically cut wasn’t because of any flaws with this particular visa but rather for political considerations, incorrectly blaming the visa for too many immigrants increasing property prices and increasing congestion in major cities. That old chestnut.
Roll on 2022 and we have massive skill shortages (well what did they expect after injecting massive amounts of money into the economy to stave off the repercussions of Covid 19 and having a net migrant loss of 88,000 people during 2020/2021).
As far as processing times are concerned, these too have languished, largely because the government didn’t want to approve overseas skilled permanent resident visas during Covid 19 because they would have increased pressure on quarantine facilities. As a result the government diverted resources from visa processing to border control.
Shortsighted – yes. Everyone (apart from those in government) could have foreseen that there would be a massive backlog of skilled visas awaiting processing whilst Australia is suffering its worst skill shortage on record.
I understand that more resources are being allocated to processing the backlog of visas and I hope that we return to a time when an independent visa was processed within four months (it doesn’t seem that long ago).
Whether the government can devise an immigration policy adept at sourcing needed skills and processing them fast enough to be competitive in the international quest for skills remains to be seen, but what is encouraging is at last a recognition with the new Labor government that skilled migrants in a vast array of occupations are required, and that when they apply the visas need to be processed in a timeframe to remain as a competitive player in the global skills acquisition market.
I am the quintessential optimist, the guy who sees the migration cup as half full and hopes that with this new government things will be different. Fingers crossed.
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