Tradies, tech and healthcare workers in demand this year
The workplace is changing at an unprecedented pace, driven by technological advancements, shifting demand and global dynamics.
As we approach 2024, it's crucial for working Australians to consider career paths that offer the best opportunities and are moving with the times, including the trades and jobs in the health and technology sectors.
LinkedIn research recently found that the 10 best career options worldwide for 2024 include data analysts and data scientists, followed by healthcare professionals (such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and healthcare administrators), cybersecurity experts, renewable energy and sustainability professionals, as well as software developers such as those creating AI and robotics engineers.
That list was derived considering factors like demand, potential for innovation, and societal impact.
That global list also rings true for Australia.
The healthcare sector is becoming entrenched as the nation's biggest employer, with jobs growth projected to outpace that in most other industries as chronic disease becomes more prevalent as the population ages. The healthcare sector now employs more Australians than any other industry.
The number of workers employed in the healthcare and social assistance industry grew by 97,300 people or 4.8% over the year to February 2023, with 2.1 million Australians now employed in the healthcare sector, compared to 1.2 million employed in education and training, another big employer, according to official data.
Elsewhere, the technology workforce is expanding and now Australia's seventh-largest employing industry. Across every state and territory, tech jobs are growing faster than the average job in those economies.
The country's tech workforce stood at 935,000 in February 2023. Average wages for tech jobs are relatively high, at approximately $132,000, compared to average wages across Australia of around $95,000 a year.
Jobs in the direct-tech sector were the second highest of any advertised on SEEK in the past year, only coming behind CEOs, according to the Tech Council of Australia (TCA) .
Tech jobs expected to be in great demand in 2024 include cloud experts, AI software developers, business and systems analysts and cybersecurity experts. Australia still needs hundreds of thousands more people working in tech to meet its digital needs over the next decade, which will keep on pushing up salaries for tech workers.
Significant gaps in skill tech workers have built up over time because for decades Australia has created more tech jobs than generated tech graduates. Australia has to reskill and upskill 300,000 Australians in tech jobs by 2030 and separately train and employ 160,000 young Australians to enter the tech workforce.
Elsewhere, trade workers are some of the most in-demand in Australia and the hardest to find, including mechanics, construction workers and electricians.
The top five skills shortages in Australia identified by the Federal Government are:
- metal workers
- early childhood teachers
The average annual salary for tradesperson jobs in Australia ranged from $75,000 to $85,000 in December 2023, according to Seek. But tradie salaries can be much higher; recent figures show that one in 10 tradies earns more than $200,000 per year.
Notably, trade jobs can't be replaced by AI, unlike many white-collar jobs, many of which are more vulnerable to being replaced by AI.
Legal jobs are some of the most vulnerable after office support workers, and ahead of management jobs, according to recent Goldman Sachs research, the Potentially Large Effects of Artificial Intelligence on Economic Growth.
In contrast, as long as we live in buildings, tradies will be in demand and there will continue to be plenty of jobs which can't be met by AI. Some of the highest wages are earned by tradies are carpenters, plumbers, construction workers, electricians, bricklayers and concreters.
Indeed, data shows that many trade workers earn well above the average Australian wage.
Plumbers, for example, earn an average salary of around $100,000, while bricklayers earn an average of around $120,000, the same as concreters.
For anyone who likes working with their hands, that's a great career outcome. Like teachers and nurses and computer programmers, tradies are an essential job and society will pay highly for their essential services.
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