Monday, 09 September 2019 17:01

IT workers could be well placed for the coming decade

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Melbourne and Sydney IT workers with postgraduate degrees and a continuous learning mindset are likely to fare reasonably well during the 2020s.

Noted demographer Bernard Salt told the Telstra Vantage conference last week that it makes sense for a young person to invest their next 10 years in Australia.

Australia has the 14th largest GDP in the world despite its small population, which means "we have the capacity to indulge our passion for lifestyle".

Furthermore, the IMF predicts Australia will move up to 12th place in 10 years time.

"Our secret weapon is our capacity for immigration," observed Salt, who is managing director of The Demographics Group. Australia has a "very absorbent culture" and just as it absorbed Mediterranean cultures during the postwar period, it would also soak up the Chinese, Indian and other cultures associated with more recent waves of immigration.

The growing population meant there would be increased demand for buildings and other infrastructure, but the real uptick in the demand for healthcare due to the number of older Australians would not kick in until the 2030s, he suggested.

The employment segments showing the highest jobs growth between 2000 and 2019 were (in order) health and social assistance, science and technology professionals, construction, and education and training.

This pattern, he predicted, would continue. "We are adding people at a globally significant rate", but a high proportion of them were moving to Melbourne (120,000 a year) and Sydney.

But skill levels are being hollowed out, warned Salt. Almost half of new jobs fell into the most highly skilled category (requiring at least a bachelor's degree or five years of relevant experience), and there was practically no growth in the middle band.

For example, one of the fastest growing jobs was chef (skill level 2), while one of the fastest shrinking jobs was cook (skill level 3).

And while truck driver (skill level 4) was currently one of the most numerous jobs in Australia, a lot of effort was going into the development of autonomous vehicles, putting many of these jobs at risk.

It's tempting to suggest that truck driver's offsiders (skill level 5, with no educational requirements beyond compulsory schooling) would still be needed to load and unload those trucks, at least until robots take over those duties too.

Salt noted that more education continued to correlate with higher earnings, and that learning needed to be an ongoing process.

For success in the coming decade, workers needed to be skilled, lifelong learners who were agile, social and resilient, he said.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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