Understanding the shape of Australia's post-COVID-19 workforce

The future shape of the Australian workforce may not change significantly, even with the unprecedented impact of COVID-19. Pre-existing trends, such as increased digitisation and a shift to higher skilled jobs are likely to continue, according to research released today by the National Skills Commission (NSC).

The shape of Australia’s post COVID-19 workforce is the second major report by the NSC, providing an update on recent Australian labour market developments and publishing two major NSC research projects – development of a resilient occupations framework and analysis of four recovery scenarios.

The resilient occupations framework ranks the relative strength of 358 occupations and their likely prospects as the economy recovers from the initial impacts of COVID-19; while the four recovery scenarios identify the potential impact of the pandemic across industries and occupations to 2025.

Both areas of research suggest that occupations that were performing well before COVID-19, including health, education and professional services, are expected to dominate growth, and jobs are likely to continue to become more highly skilled.

National Skills Commissioner Adam Boyton said the NSC’s analysis of labour market data shows cause for a cautious optimistic outlook on Australia’s jobs recovery.

“The NSC’s own monitoring of internet vacancies and our surveys of employers supports signs of recovery, as reflected in the most recent ABS labour force data,” Mr Boyton said.

The shape of Australia’s post COVID-19 workforce uses forecasts, data and modelling to get a better view of what our future might look like.

“Ultimately, the message from this report is that while there will undoubtedly be lasting changes as a result of COVID-19, these may not be as dramatic as might have been expected,” he said.

“The broad distribution of occupations across the economy may not, in fact, change that much. What might change, however, is how we do those jobs.”   

The report also underscores the importance of education and training – of all types – in helping to shape Australia’s post-COVID-19 workforce.

“By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the Australian labour market – and opportunities for effective policy responses – we stand the best chance of getting more people back to work”, Mr Boyton said.

View The shape of Australia’s post-COVID-19 workforce and the full results of the NSC’s resilient occupations framework.