The NSC’s future focus on the labour market

Over the next 12 months, the NSC will build on its initial research to develop an in-depth understanding of current and future labour market conditions and skills needs.

The NSC will use both traditional and new data sources and techniques such big data and machine learning approaches, as well as more traditional economic and skills analysis.

Key research areas of focus for the NSC will include:

  • assessing the nature of labour market recovery
  • determining skills shortages or surplus
  • analysing the structural shifts that are occurring in the labour market
  • identifying current, emerging and future skills needs.

The NSC is currently undertaking CGE (computable general equilibrium) scenario modelling to provide a picture of what the labour market will look like — including by regions and occupations — as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 shock. This modelling will help inform the NSC’s work in determining likely labour market needs.

Reflecting the significant uncertainties involved in forecasting and modelling at the current point in time, the NSC’s work will be supplemented by analysis of real-time data and surveys of employers.

During the initial stage of the economy’s recovery from COVID-19 we will also continue to survey employers about jobs in demand and future staffing expectations.

The NSC will continue to publish the monthly IVI, which provides a consistent time series of online job advertisements published monthly at detailed levels of occupations and regions in Australia.

Linking the work above to the JEDI project will mean the NSC will be able to present a picture of the labour market that extends from sectors and occupations to specific skills and training needs.

This, combined with innovative approaches such as ‘Nowcasting’ and new tools created through JEDI will — over time — enable the NSC to develop robust intelligence on Australia’s labour market, our workforce, and current and emerging skills needs.

The NSC will also engage with industry, education and training providers and other stakeholders to ensure this work has a ‘real world’ focus and is relevant.

Overall it is designed to help lay the foundations to build a modern education and training system that prepares Australia and Australians for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Introducing Nowcasting

To complement existing labour market analysis, the NSC will develop an innovative Nowcasting capability. Nowcasting will enable analysis of labour market trends in near real-time to provide a more timely, accurate and granular view of what is happening in the labour market by harnessing traditional and new sources of data:

  • Nowcasting bridges the gap between the collection and release of traditional macroeconomic data, which often arrives with a substantial time lag. This lag means it is often difficult to discern what is happening in the present — this is particularly critical during events like COVID-19.
  • The current COVID-19 shock has had a sharp impact on the labour market, with a large rise in unemployment, underemployment (reduced hours of work), loss of income and delays in the study to work transition for many young Australians.
  • Nowcasting the labour market in near real-time will facilitate a better targeted and more effective policy response that can help alleviate the specific issues facing job seekers in the short-to medium-term and return them to work.

Annual State of the Skills report

The NSC’s work will culminate in an annual State of the Skills report.

The report will consolidate and strengthen labour market and skills needs analysis, providing an independent and trusted source of information about what is happening in the Australian labour market now and into the future.

This report will be a resource for:

  • business and training providers to draw on to inform workforce planning
  • the National Careers Institute to assist individuals to make informed decisions about learning, training and work pathways
  • students to make informed decisions about their future, based on better information about their job prospects and incomes

Australian governments, as a robust basis for policy development.

Real-time analysis will inform decisions

By using real-time labour market research and analysis to inform governments, education providers, businesses and individuals, Australia will be better equipped to respond to economic changes and supply the skills that are in demand — the key to our recovery and growth.

The NSC has begun this analysis by using real-time job advertisement data from analytics software company, Burning Glass Technologies.

As a sample case, the NSC examined two occupations that were adversely affected by COVID-19 and saw a decline in job advertisements: Hairdressers and Sales Representatives. By comparing the number of job advertisements each week for these occupations, early trends in recovery rates can be seen.

While demand for Sales Representatives has risen since its low point in late April, the demand for Hairdressers has increased at a much faster rate, with more job ads in the final week of May than any other point in 2020.

Chart 18: Occupations with large annual decreases in job advertisements, May 2020

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Chart 18: Occupations with large annual decreases in job advertisements, May 2020

Source: Burning Glass Technologies data, NSC analysis

Chart 18

This chart shows five occupations that experienced large decreases in job advertisements during COVID-19.

Sales Representatives had 3209 online job advertisements in May 2019 and only 1173 in May 2020: a drop of 2036.

Accountants had 2409 online job advertisements in May 2019 and only 1117 in May 2020: a drop of 1292.

Management and Organisation Analysts had 1844 online job advertisements in May 2019 and only 754 in May 2020, a drop of 1090.

Software and Applications Programmers had 2194 online job advertisements in May 2019 and only 1116 in May 2020: a drop of 1078.

Advertising, Public Relations and Sales Managers had 1831 online job advertisements in May 2019 and only 792 in May 2020: a drop of 1039.

As government restrictions continue to ease, real-time labour market information will help identify the occupations experiencing a slow recovery. It will also give an indication of the occupations in high demand requiring more skilled workers.

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Female metal fabricator using a grinder on metal
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Blue circle with white outline of a diploma certificate

The NSC is working towards being able to match skills gaps with a training course or qualification.