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Analysis of newly released Syntec's guide to economic growth and jobs for the next 10 years

PETER THOMPSON: Phil Cleary was propelled to victory in Wills, at least partly, by anger over tariff cuts which are taking away jobs in the electorate's traditional textile, clothing and footwear industries. With jobs vanishing as tariff walls come down, people are reasonably asking where the new jobs are coming from. Well, this morning, a survey purports to answer that question. Syntec's Guide to Growth applies the computer model used by the Commonwealth Treasury to each of 21 sectors of the economy. It makes forecasts about jobs and profits for the next five years, and some of the results are surprising. Here's our economics correspondent, Peter Martin.

PETER MARTIN: According to Syntec, education will be our fastest-growing export earner, outpacing the percentage growth in mining exports, in agriculture exports and in manufacturing exports. When it comes to jobs, the answer is equally surprising. Agriculture will jump ahead the most in the next half decade, followed by a sector called `services'. Syntec's Gerard Minack applied the Treasury's own preferred computer model to Syntec's broad economic forecasts to pick the individual industries likely to be employment winners.

GERARD MINACK: Well, we're talking about jobs in restaurants, hotels. Gambling will be a strong growth area, tourism-related projects. Also community services, and there we're talking about health, education.

PETER MARTIN: Can you understand why to an elector in Coburg whose job's involved in providing a service to a person mightn't seem as real or as permanent as a job involved in making something?

GERARD MINACK: I can see why, but it is as real, as permanent. A dollar is a dollar in a sense. If you're getting a dollar from a Japanese tourist for serving him in a restaurant, it's as worth while as getting a dollar off him by selling him a piece of wool.

PETER MARTIN: Earning the wooden spoon for new jobs in the half-decade ahead are, ironically, the same sectors in which profit is expected to jump the most.

GERARD MINACK: Micro-economic reform is going to see a lot of jobs lost in areas such as electricity, gas and water - that's the power utilities; communication; and some of the industries at the forefront of the Government's industry policy such as transport equipment.

PETER MARTIN: Are those industries, in fact, the very ones which you predict to do best in financial terms over the next half-decade?

GERARD MINACK: Certainly, in terms of growth, there seems to be an inverse correlation between employment and export and product growth and, as you'd expect if we're getting more out of each worker in these industries, then the industries can cut their prices and become more competitive on international markets or expand their sales into the local market.

PETER MARTIN: So could we say that there's very little in micro-economic reform for someone wanting a job?

GERARD MINACK: Well, I think what we're seeing, now, is jobs that are sustainable and are now highly productive, so we can pay our workers a bit more. The permanent jobs now - there's no subsidised tariff-protected jobs, so people who keep a job in these areas can be secure.

PETER MARTIN: Can we believe this morning's very detailed computer projections? Syntec's Gerard Minack.

GERARD MINACK: If we get our big picture right, we're confident that the micro-industry level picture will be right. There are risks, of course, that if we get our big picture wrong, there'll be some errors creeping in.

PETER MARTIN: Does Syntec get its big picture wrong, typically?

GERARD MINACK: More often than not, we get it right.

PETER THOMPSON: Syntec's director of research, Gerard Minack.