Future Predictions of Greater Perth and WAs Workforce

Download the full documentfile_download

The Committee for Perth’s latest research demonstrates that in the last 50 years Australia has shifted from being a producer mainly of primary products to one of services. Accompanying this shift has been a rise in consumption, production, employment and exports in service industries, with a share of gross value-added in 2020 of 73.4%. In Western Australia (WA) that figure equates to 47.1%. This is a structural change in our economy, and it is fair to say that we are no longer riding on the sheep’s back.

Using the health care and social assistance industry as an example, over the past 21 years the industry has grown to 1,881,300 people—almost a million more workers than recorded in 2000. In WA it grew by over 100,000 workers in that same period. Looking at the National Skill Commission’s predictions through to 2025 across the country, this growth is predicted to continue with health requiring a staggering 249,000 workers over the five-year period and Greater Perth needing 25,500 of that figure.

Projected Employment Growth in Selected Industries, Australia, November 2020 to November 2025.

Source: National Skill Commission (2021a)

The education and training industry is forecast to grow by an additional 9,000 workers by 2025, and accommodation and food services industry will need an additional 7,500 workers in Greater Perth. The mining industry in WA has become one of the largest employers, with 120,300 workers recorded in 2021, representing 45.3% of the total employed persons in the industry nationally. This industry is forecast to require an additional 13,500 workers in Greater Perth through to 2025.

Given the intense competition for workers nationally, the obvious question to pose is where will these workers come from? We will grow some of our own, we will lure some from the east coast and we will also rely on workers from overseas.

In terms of growing our own workers, there are significant barriers to getting the long-term unemployed into work, which is also an issue for the underemployed. Our ability to lure people from the east coast depends on several factors including housing availability, which currently is very tight. Our optimistic forecast for the overseas worker pool coming to WA via the granting of Temporary Resident (Skill) Visas equates to almost 3,000 people on short-term skilled and 3,500 on medium-term skilled visas in 2025. The pool of permanent skilled migrants arriving in WA is forecast to be around 4,800 persons in 2025. By anyone’s maths, that does not amount to many people.

Simply put, if the economy maintains its breakneck speed, WA faces an ongoing skills shortage through to 2025, which is a significant barrier to economic growth and WA’s prosperity. Now is the time to develop a state-wide coordinated workforce strategy that includes all facets of education and training and an accompanying migration policy.

Access the research at https://www.committeeforperth.com.au/documents/factbase-bulletin-79-the-western-australian-and-greater-perth-workforce-past-trends-and-future-projections

Published in Business News 14 March 2022.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.