Alongside the many losers during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a few surprising winners. No-one could have predicted in 2019 that hand sanitizer, rapid antigen test kits or telehealth services would, more or less overnight, become the most crucial consumer products in the world. But what about industry trends? What can we expect for the next year? The next five years? The next decade? Which industries will bounce back from the pandemic, and which ones will require skilled digital workers?
This is an important question. A recent report from RMIT Online found that there’s still a major digital skills gap in Australia’s workforce, with 156,000 new tech workers needed to keep pace with rapid change. 87% of all jobs now require some form of tech skills, and that number is expected to rise.
“Australian employers across all industries need to prioritise training and up-skilling to transform, survive and thrive in a post-COVID world,” said RMIT Online CEO Helen Souness. “This includes shifting their perspective on training to consider it as a core business activity rather than a nice to have.”
So let’s take a look at the fastest growing industries in Australia for 2022 and beyond.
Software & Analytics
Not surprising, but coding, programming, software and data analytics are all expected to surge over the next few years. These industries were already booming pre-COVID, but with most businesses needing to rapidly shift their presence online, not to mention growing digital consumer trends, every business will eventually need someone who can code in Python or Java, develop websites, manage IT and crunch the numbers. Support technicians, web developers, app developers and ICT managers should have no trouble finding work over the next five years.
Hardware and robotics is another interesting field. You might have noticed more of them around lately (particularly in hospitality and food delivery, where robots and drones have become a safe and cost-effective way to deal with COVID restrictions). But it’s not just delivering noodles or cleaning in supermarkets; robotics is set to dominate several industries over the next few years, including pharmaceuticals (69% year-on-year growth), consumer goods (56% year-on-year growth) and automotive manufacture (39% year-on-year growth).
Another obvious winner from the pandemic. According to the latest figures, e-commerce is one of Australia’s fastest growing tech sectors, contributing $9 billion in gross economic value in 2021. Over the last two years, traditional retail has been hit harder than almost any other industry, forcing many brands to pivot to online (if they weren’t there already). For jobs, this means surging demand for digital advertisers, marketing experts, UX and UI designers, data analysts and web developers.
Thanks largely to the federal government’s runaway Homebuilder scheme, which handed $25,000 to more than 137,000 Australians and pumped a whopping $120 billion into the industry, construction has emerged from the pandemic not just alive, but absolutely thriving. This is a good thing for the economy, and for jobs. The Australian Industry and Skills Committee calculated that construction generates over $360 billion in annual revenue and produces about 9% of Australia’s GDP. The sector is expected to grow 2.4% over the next five years. Obviously many of the jobs created here will be trade-related, but the industry still needs supply chain managers, BIM technicians and IT departments, to keep operations running smoothly.
We’ve all heard of the Metaverse – Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for an immersive virtual society, which is either audacious or creepy, depending on your point of view – but Virtual Reality (VR) is bigger than Meta. The industry feels like it’s just on the cusp of mainstream adoption, with VR gaming expected to hit US$53 billion by 2028. Zoom has already broken down walls between the real world and the online world, and VR does feel like the next logical leap. For digital workers, this means app development, software engineering, user experience and UI design are all looking very promising.
Australian healthcare is in an interesting place. On the one hand, we’ve seen many professionals leave the industry during the pandemic, either due to burnout or protests over vaccine mandates. On the other hand, government figures show the industry still supports over 1.5 million people, and the digital side of healthcare is expected to explode over the next few years. The government is already investing $106 million to make tele-health a permanent service, while hospitals and doctors are increasingly turning to private tech solutions, including clinic management software, wearables, cloud-based platforms and artificial intelligence.
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