Executive summary

A time of major change

COVID-19 has radically affected Australia’s labour market.

We have seen an unprecedented fall in employment, a dramatic drop in hours worked, a significant increase in underemployment, a record number of people leaving the labour force, and job vacancies falling to the lowest level in over a decade. Young people and women have been disproportionately affected, some industries have fared better than others, and capital cities have generally felt the impact more deeply than regional areas.

Thousands of jobs have been lost and the lives of many Australians greatly altered. Despite this, Australia is still doing better than most other nations in terms of economic resilience.

Details are in Part 1.

Using data to inform recovery

As we start recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be challenges and difficult times ahead. But there will also be opportunities. We can hasten recovery by understanding where jobs are growing, and ensuring our workforce has the necessary skills for those jobs.

This requires a deep understanding of which sectors, industries, occupations, groups in our society and regions have been, and might continue to be, affected by the economic shock from COVID-19. We need this data and evidence to shape our recovery, and our education and training system, so Australians are prepared for the modern workplace.

The NSC will work to ensure skill shortages don’t act as a handbrake on growth as businesses begin hiring again. Analysing the impact of COVID-19 will help identify where there is growth and what jobs are in demand. Matching workers to those jobs in this uncertain and evolving environment will require the ability to quickly identify skills needs and retrain people. The focus on skilling, re-skilling or upskilling displaced workers will be essential to open new prospects for job seekers and drive the recovery of the jobs market and our economy.

Details are in Part 2.

The NSC’s future labour market focus

The NSC is developing a range of information, resources and tools to support Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19. Over the coming year, the NSC will focus on determining skills shortages and surpluses, assessing the nature of labour market recovery, analysing structural shifts and identifying current and emerging skills needs.

In this way, the NSC will develop a rich and granular picture of Australia’s labour market to help us build the skilled, resilient and adaptable workforce we need now, and for the years ahead.