Mar 14, 2016

The workforce of 2020 — more women, less building stuff

The Australian workforce is shifting rapidly into services -- especially health and care services -- while traditional production industries decline. We take a look at what the workforce will look like in 2020.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The Australian economy of the early 2020s will be one in which manufacturing has become a niche employer, and meeting our need for nurses, doctors and childcare workers will be the greatest workforce challenge, if current trends persist.

Crikey has used ABS workforce data to track workforce trends over the last five years to see how Australians will be working in coming years. And there’s unlikely to be any change from the historic shift from manufacturing and production industries to service industries that has driven the reshaping of the Australian workforce in recent decades, notwithstanding the mining boom.

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5 thoughts on “The workforce of 2020 — more women, less building stuff

  1. Peter Darco

    Since there is a limit to the number of manufactured items that most people want, increased in living standards must involve more services.

    And with an aging population there will be plenty of demand for services.

    There is also unmet demand for services for partially incapacitated people of all sorts.

    The main issue is working out how to pay for these services and thereby keep a reasonable proportion of the population with permanent employment.

  2. Woopwoop

    True, Peter. I can’t see where a society’s wealth comes from when its people’s main occupation is providing services for each other.

  3. Peter Darco

    ” I can’t see where a society’s wealth comes from when its people’s main occupation is providing services for each other.”

    This is a key issue. Is wealth found in:

    – accumulation of goods?
    – accumulation of land?
    – accumulation of money?
    – a caring supportive society?
    – a resilient and productive landscape?
    – a stable economy with secure employment?

    Personally I consider that a good life does not require maximizing possessions.

  4. bushby jane

    It’s all very well increasing ‘service sector’ workers, but the country has to afford to pay for them somehow, which in the past was ‘making stuff’. I can’t see how this has changed. Manufacturing employed lots of less academic people, who are the ones we now see as unemployed. Is this progress, I don’ think so.

  5. AR

    Jane – this country has NEVER paid its way “making stuff’ unless you consider wool & wheat as ‘making’.
    It was always a farm & mine, as source of raw materials like other colonies in the daze when Britannia Waived the Rules and the majority of heavy engineering was Empire Preferred.
    Our manufacturing industries were sheltered workshops to stop those surplus to requirements scaring the horses.
    PeterD has it – the single growth industry will be care of infirm and the aged.
    The latter will control the majority of assets and want the best, i look forward to rock&roll retirement homes with nubile staff of all sexes & proclivities and a wide open pharmacopoeia.

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