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Dawkins releases major report on the future of the labour market

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Australia's workforce will be much more highly skilled at the end of this decade because most new jobs created from now until the Year 2001 will be in the better skilled occupations, according to a major report on the future of the labour market released in Canberra today.

The report, Australia's Workforce in the Year 2001, was released by John Dawkins, the Minister for Employment, Education and Training.

Prepared by the Economic and Policy Analysis Division of the Department of Employment, Education and Training, the report provides a snapshot of the likely shape of the labour market in ten years time. It will greatly assist the Government to make long-term policy decisions on economic and education and training issues.

"We are frequently concerned with the present state of the job market and what the near future holds," said Mr Dawkins, "but we should not walk away from looking at problems, trends and policy in the longer-term.

"The snapshot of the job market ten years from now tells us, for example, that unless we address problems in our vocational training system, teenagers in the Year 2001 may find it difficult to make the transition to full-time work.

"It is also clear from the report that English skills for migrants, re-training for the older unemployed and an emphasis on better skills and education for Aboriginal people are priorities if we want to avoid employment difficulties for these people down the track.

Other Report findings include:

. an increasing proportion of jobs will be part-time and much of the job growth will be among the female population;

. the workforce will age due to a slow down in population growth. Migration,however, cannot be seen as an antidote to this ageing as


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higher levels of migration will increase labour force growth and its effect on the average age of the labour market will not be substantial.

. enrolments in our education and training systems will grow steadily throughout the 1990s, which will result in pressure to ensure that vocational education is relevant to the needs of the labour market and the wider economy.

. most occupations are at least expected to maintain the proportion of their workforce with relevant qualifications. By industry, mining, building and construction will be the fastest growing in terms of output while employment will be fastest growing in the recreation,

personal services, building and construction, wholesale and retail trade, community services and health and public administration sectors.

. Aboriginal people will need to increase their education levels to compete in a more highly skilled job market and migrants will need to have sufficient communication skills to take advantage of new opportunities in the job market

. stabilisation of the current account deficit will require a major shift in the economy's productive capacity towards the traditional export industries as well as the traded services sector, such as tourism. Import competing industries will also need to expand. Such expansion will not mean, however, that there will be large increases in employment in all these industries.

"This Report is not the definitive forecast of the shape of the workforce in 2001" said Mr Dawkins, "because there are too many variables and uncertainties.

"Indeed, the Government will be taking active steps to address some of the problems identified in the Report to ensure the projections do not become reality. For example, implementation of the Finn Report should address the "Teenagers at Risk" problem.

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"What the Report does do is give us an idea about the shape of the labour market and this is going to be very important to all governments and for industry leaders as they plan for the future."

August 8,1991

Enquiries: Wayne Bums Mr Dawkins' Media Adviser 06 277 7460


Tom Karmel Economic Analysis Branch, DEBT 276 8690