AMP NATSEM Income & Wealth Report
We can work it out: Australia’s changing workforce
In recent years we’ve experienced a global recession that’s changed the global labour force with industries closing down, job lay-offs and increasing unemployment. On top of that, in Australia we’ve experienced significant structural and technological change that’s seen us move from an agricultural based economy to being services based.
The recently released 36th AMP.NATSEM report takes a look at the current state of the Australian labour market – what we do, how much we earn, youth unemployment and how we compare internationally.
Some occupations from the 1990s no longer exist – we’ve said goodbye to typists and the person running the photocopy room, and hello to project managers and mobile phone salespeople. Add to these changes, the shift in demographics and gender and an ageing population, the Australian workforce is a fascinating reflection of modern society.
This latest report helps us understand the current labour market and shines a light on life in Australia, the way we live and work – ultimately impacting on the financial and personal aspirations of us all. For example, because we’re living longer, we’re going to have to work longer and save harder to see us through retirement.
The report showed the challenges facing Australia’s workforce is two-fold. As people over 65 are projected to make up nearly a quarter of the population in the future, older people leaving the workforce will take with them skills and experience, while many young people are struggling to find work. Consequently, this leads to younger people not getting the experience they need if they are to do these jobs in the future. While some jobs won’t exist, not all will be obsolete so working longer – into our older years – and learning how to pass on skills and knowledge to a younger workforce must be in the mix if we’re to remain prosperous.
- When it comes to low unemployment, Australia is in the top 10 nations globally, at 6%.
- Youth unemployment, those aged 15 to 19 looking for full time work, is 4.5 times more than it is for those aged 20 and over.
- Back in 1911 the only occupation where females were the majority of workers was in “domestic” work. Now, females are the majority in four of eight occupation classifications, including professionals, clerical and administrative workers, community and personal service workers, and sales workers.
- The baby boomer generation is moving into retirement, with the proportion of older people expected to rise to nearly a quarter of the population, from 13.5% to 22.7% in 2050. This will see a significant depth of skills, knowledge and experience move out of the workplace.
- Australia’s fertility rate is below replacement level, meaning the proportion of working age people is forecast to drop to 60% by 2050, down from 67.4% in 2010.
What lies ahead?
In terms of financial stability, if we’re to achieve this in the future with a growing ageing population, there’s a few things we need to be doing now. And the most important is encouraging people to save more during their working lives – and managing for situations when they’re away from work for family, study or to care for others.
At work and at home we need to create the right settings that encourage people to save more, work longer, and to put the right measures in place for an affordable income in retirement.
If we get things right in the middle part of our lives, our later years are more likely to be filled with security and enjoyment. This means an ageing population will be less of a financial burden on younger generations, of which there will be fewer in the workforce. And by making these changes, it means Australia can remain prosperous as the workforce composition shifts.