Experts predict the jobs of the future

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A few years can make a huge difference in an industry. As entrepreneurs use advanced technology to disrupt the way we’ve lived for generations, new sectors develop while others cease to exist. Take Uber, for example. Ten years ago, a global ride-sharing network reliant on GPS would have been unfathomable.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint which roles will be most in-demand over the next decade and beyond, industry trends show where opportunities will likely lie. The early prediction is that health care and social assistance, education and training, technical services and construction, will provide more than half of all new employment opportunities between now and 2019 (Australian Government’s Industry Employment Projections 2015 report). We asked industry experts what’s driving the growth in these key sectors.

Age of influence
One of the biggest factors in Australia’s economic future is our rapidly ageing population. To cater for this, health care and social assistance industries are expected to grow by 20.9 per cent by 2019. Deakin University consumer behaviour specialist, Dr Paul Harrison, says a contributing factor is the increasing number of wealthy elderly people. ‘As people who’ve experienced high quality, they are looking for service types that are above and beyond what’s available now,’ he explains. Dr Harrison likens the emergence of luxury aged care products to facilities like the Qantas Club lounge – those who can afford it get the best, while others have to take the no-frills option.

He points out that this does raise philosophical questions about the fairness of commercialised aged health care. Harrison says there is much work to be done at the lower end, such as providing better transitional services for ageing Australians who don’t have the money to be picky. ‘Aged care happens so quickly it becomes a medical choice. We need to improve the process of making that choice,’ he says.

A rising skyline
Property and construction industry roles are set to spike by 137 900 in the next five years, which is a 13 per cent rise. Contributing factors include low interest rates and an increase in building approvals, which are both set to continue. Professor Richard Reed, chair in property and real estate at Deakin University, says some of the most in-demand roles will include: property financial advisors, market analysts, residential property developers, environmentally friendly developers, and commercial and residential property developers.

Investors will continue to drive the growth. ‘Since the share market is quite volatile and risky, the alternative of property and real estate will be attractive,’ Prof. Reed explains. He adds that many property and construction positions can’t be replaced by technology. ‘For example to value a property, it is almost always essential to undertake an internal inspection. This is a task that a human must undertake,’ he says, concluding that because of the rising demand for good people in this sector, not only will the career opportunities increase, so will remuneration.

Engineering a bright future
Professional, scientific and technical service workers will likely be in demand in the coming years, with an estimated growth of 14.4 per cent. Within this area, there will be particularly strong growth in architecture and engineering, with roles in these fields expected to rise by 429 000, or 17.3 per cent, in the next five years.

Deakin University engineering and mechatronics expert, Dr Ben Horan, says rapid technological advances are driving demand for skilled technicians. ‘We are seeing more integration of electronic, computer systems with mechanical systems, with well-known examples being drones, and robot vacuums cleaners,’ he explains, adding, ‘Mechatronics engineers and those well-versed in the overlap between electronic and mechanical systems will be in demand.’

This is just a glimpse of what the future holds for Australia’s labour market. For more information about the projections, see the Industry Employment Projections 2015 report.

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Dr Paul Harrison
Dr Paul Harrison

Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Deakin Business School, Deakin University
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Professor Richard Reed
Professor Richard Reed

Chair in Property and Real Estate, Deakin Business School, Deakin University
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Dr Ben Horan
Dr Ben Horan

Course Director – Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering, School of Engineering, Deakin University
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