Shift to services raises demand for people and trades skills

A health practitioner wearing blue scrubs. She is smiling at the camera.

The health care and social assistance industry is growing

This story was first published on Wednesday 4 September 2019. If you wish to use this content, please contact to confirm that the information is still current.

Along with almost three decades of uninterrupted growth, the Australian labour market has shifted away from production industries towards service-based industries — and this is expected to continue.

The four industries projected to provide around two-thirds of employment growth over the next five years are health care and social assistance (up by 250,300), construction (118,800), education and training (113,000) and professional, scientific and technical services (106,600).

Labour market economist Ivan Neville said the shift towards more labour-intensive service industries has led to a growth in part-time work, women’s workforce participation, and strong growth in higher skilled jobs.

“To meet evolving workforce requirements, it’s paramount for industry, government and job seekers to monitor skills that are being demanded by employers,” Ivan said.

“Our research has found that growth in service industries has created demand for skilled workers, like accountants, software programmers, solicitors and trades roles.”

Notably, shortages exist in many occupations including for a range of jobs related to automotive, engineering, food and construction trades.

Research also shows that around three-quarters of employers place at least as much emphasis, if not more, on employability skills than they do on technical skills. Supporting this finding, in the year to May 2019, the most common skills requested in job advertisements included communication, relationship building, teamwork, and planning skills.

“These type of skills are transferrable across different types of occupations and are also those that are often harder to replicate with a machine,” Ivan said.

“Employers place high value on skills related to communication and the ability to engage effectively with others.”

More information

From the Newsroom

Correct at time of publication.