Job forecasts for regional Australia – where and what are they?
There’s a general thought out there that Australia’s capital cities have the greatest job opportunities and this is where growth will happen. But while job projections show that overall job growth will be the largest in the metropolitan areas like Sydney and Melbourne, regional Australia is expected to grow significantly as well.
Each year, the Department of Jobs and Small Business produces employment projections by industry, occupation, skill level and region for the following five-year period. These employment projections are designed to provide a guide to the future direction of the labour market.
Current data shows that by May 2022, job numbers for Australia is projected to reach 13,061,600. This is an increase of 948,400 jobs since 2017. Of these jobs, 26 percent (243,865) are expected to be regional areas.
These forecast numbers for regional Australia are significant and questions need to be raised about where this workforce will come from?
However, to start with, we must look at where the projected growth will happen and what industries will take the lead in this space.
The Government’s SA4 regions are quite large and generally combine some large regional towns and cities along with more rural areas as illustrated in the map below.
In terms of the rate of job growth, the top 10 areas are mostly in metropolitan areas, with the exceptions of the Gold Coast and the Mid North Coast (around 2 percent annually). The average annual job growth rate for regional areas is approximately 1.2 percent.
In outright numbers terms, our regions with the greatest projected increase in jobs are:
|Gold Coast (Qld)||37040|
|Newcastle and Lake Macquarie (NSW)||13994|
|Sunshine Coast (QLD)||13349|
|Mid North Coast (NSW)||9213|
|Greater Hobart (TAS)||6883|
|Western Australia – Outback||6846|
|Wide Bay (QLD)||6770|
|Fitzroy (known as Central Queensland under 2016 boundaries)||6532|
So now that we know where the projected growth will likely occur, we can have a look at which industries will produce the greatest demand for workers in our regions.On the whole, all regions are expected to have some increases in job numbers, though Queensland – Outback, which is the second smallest SA4 (population of 79,702) is projected to have the smallest increase of approximately 181 jobs.
In most of these top regions, job numbers are expected to be driven mainly by the health care and social assistance industry, which will contribute a total of 86,424 regional jobs.
Interestingly, the Gold Coast, which is a regional city, is projected to have the most growth in health care and social assistance jobs in Australia, ahead of other metropolitan areas like Melbourne and Perth. The Gold Coast is expected to grow by 37,000 jobs by 2022, driven largely by around 11,280 health care and social assistance industry jobs.
In outright numbers terms, our regions with the greatest increase in health care and social assistance jobs are:
|Newcastle and Lake Macquarie||6625|
These top 5 regions are the same as those within the top 10 regions where overall job growth is expected to be. Other regions in the top 10 such as the Mid North Coast and Greater Hobart also have high job growth projections in health care and social assistance. However, WA Outback does have much lower projected job numbers in this industry. Instead, the region’s overall job growth numbers are driven by public administration and safety and mining.
While significantly lower than the numbers for the health care and social assistance industry, education and training is the second largest industry projected to grow, increasing by 32,699 jobs in regional areas. Once again, Gold Coast is expected to lead with the greatest increase by 5460 jobs, followed by Illawarra and Sunshine Coast (around 2500 respectively).
Coming in at a very close number three is the construction industry, with job growth expected to be around 31,000. This is due to the increasing infrastructure demands in these regional areas to support population and other industries’ growth. In outright numbers terms, our regions with the greatest increase in construction jobs are:
|Newcastle and Lake Macquarie||3100|
|Richmond – Tweed||1600|
On the other hand, regional manufacturing job numbers are expected to decrease by the largest amount (8879 jobs). Despite the overall decrease in the number of jobs in these industries, regional areas like Ballarat, West and North West Tasmania, Warrnambool and South West Victoria, and Sunshine Coast are among the top 15 regions for projected employment growth in manufacturing industry. These areas are projected to have around 300-400 new manufacturing jobs.
Similarly, agriculture, forestry and fishing industry are also expected to grow in some regional areas, with the greatest growth in Far West and Orana NSW (800 jobs), WA Wheat Belt and Geelong VIC (700 jobs respectively).
These future job projections show that there are jobs in our regions, across a range of industries that have a mix of high skill and low skill jobs.
While regions may not experience a similar scale of jobs growth, the health care and social assistance industry is expected to be the major contributor in most regional areas. Meeting the job demand in regions with the suitable skilled workers will be fundamental to the ability of regions to take on these job growth opportunities.
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