This report looks into the implications of both the opportunities and challenges of the future of work in Australia’s regions. It examines how regional areas can take advantage of movements away from primary and secondary industries to the service industries. It examines what is needed to facilitate shifts in the local skills base to enable local workers to benefit from the jobs to come in the industries projected to grow.
The report started from concern across Australia about the big drivers of change to the future of work – drivers like automation and the surge in digital technologies, the dynamics of regional labour markets, questions of how to help match local skills with emerging local job opportunities, and competition between regions for the same sorts of workers. Regional policy makers in all jurisdictions are currently considering and reflecting on what this situation means for regional jobs and potential policy responses.
The RAI’s research has found that the impacts of the next phase of digital automation will vary considerably across different regions in Australia. For instance, jobs in agricultural production in regional areas are expected to decrease in coming years, while jobs in healthcare and social assistance are projected to have the largest increase, and the impacts of these will vary considerably across different parts of regional Australia.
In the medium term, the healthcare and social assistance industry is expected to require another 85,000 workers in regions through to 2023, and in education (28,019). With long lead times on professionals in these industries it is vital that action starts now to create the skills development pathways. Evidence from regions shows that it can be hard to fill available jobs due to perceptions of poor infrastructure, services and amenity – so action on improving the stock and capability of these key assets is in fact vital to regions being able to attract and retain the people they need to grow.
While the drivers of these changes are national and international, local responses can have a big impact. There are examples emerging around Australia of community-led efforts to influence and improve local and regional labour markets and learning systems. These are places that have taken action themselves to improve the way the employment, education and training systems work, connecting the important contributors and getting better outcomes for their residents.
This report looks at the nature of regional and local learning systems, measures of human capital across regional Australia, current regional labour market needs, projections for the next five years, and regional occupational vulnerability to automation.