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Take note of who's in demand

By Jim Bright

Growth prospects can be helpful in choosing that all-important path, writes Jim Bright.

John writes: "My two children are entering university in the next two years (2011 and 2012) so I am wondering if you have a list of jobs/professions that will be in demand, as well as the list that will be not be in demand by about 2014-2015."

The federal government's Year 12 - What next? website says the following jobs are in demand: computing and information and communications technology, social, welfare and security, accounting and finance, marketing and sales, health, fitness, hair and beauty, sales assistants and storepersons, electrical and electronic trades, building and construction, teaching and child care and (perhaps surprisingly) media, the arts and printing.

This list throws up some surprises, for instance, media and printing. However, the inclusion of arts should not surprise readers of commentators such as Daniel Pink (A Whole New Mind, Allen & Unwin, 2005) who has argued for more than five years that Western economies are going to increasingly require innovative people to compete with lower wage economies, and hence arts graduates will increasingly be valued in the workplace.

The list is also interesting because some of the courses attracting the highest Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR - the newish UAI or TER system) entrance scores, such as law and medicine, do not figure on the new list. They occupied the top two positions 25 years ago.

Two occupations appear on both lists, these are: teaching and the arts. Teaching comes as no surprise, however the enduring prospects for people in the arts, media and entertainment is surprising given how often we hear of the vagaries of trying to maintain a steady job in these areas and the transformations of the media in a digital era.

Projected growth occupations on this site include: project and program administrators, customer service managers, computing professionals, youth and disability workers and financial dealers and brokers.

This clearly indicates that the government sees continued growth in information technology-related areas, in social service-related roles, in financial services and in customer service roles (i.e. sales). This is in line with a lot of commentary about how our economy (with the exception of the phenomenal resources sector) is moving towards a service economy and therefore there are increasing jobs in this area.

Another way of thinking about this is to think about the human experience and our needs. We will always need shelter (building/engineering), food (agriculture, logistics, retail), energy and water (mining, power), health (medicine, dentistry, nursing, psychology, physiotherapy, social services etc), education (teachers, lecturers, researchers, trainers), work (recruitment, career specialists), communication (information technology), justice (law), products (manufacturing and sales) and entertainment (arts, recreation, accommodation tourism).

Other trends to consider might include the increasing environmental emphasis, the professions likely to see mass retirements in the near future due to their age profile (e.g. teaching) and the occupations emerging out of innovation (especially IT).

Great sources of information include: Year 12 - What next? website hosted by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Another great site is MyFuture. This also has links to other sources of reliable information. Perhaps the most relevant for John is the government's Job Outlook site. Other excellent resources that I routinely use include labour market analyst Rodney Stinson's database Archangel at

Be careful not to fall into the trap of choosing a career path based on growth prospects, unless you want to add to my client waiting list of people seeking to move out of a job that pays well but leaves them feeling unfulfilled, unchallenged and unhappy.

Jim Bright is professor of career education and development at ACU and a partner at Bright and Associates, a career management consultancy. Email marked clearly "FOR PUBLICATION" to

Published: 30 October 2010

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