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Finding jobs in Australia is at the heart of any successful move 'down under' for the thousands of migrants who plan and eventually make the move.

Australia is a vibrant, successful country where the consistent economic growth over the last couple of decades has seen a transformation in the economy.

A move towards greater openness, with minimal restrictions on exports and imports has seen Australia very well-placed to enjoy the benefits brought about by the transformational growth occurring in China.

Blessed with vast natural resources such as coal, iron ore, copper, gold and natural gas, Australia has benefited from huge investment into its commodity sector and the strength of global commodity prices has seen the terms of trade (the ratio of prices paid for the country’s exports versus the prices paid for the country’s imports) increase dramatically.

As a result of this economic boom, the job market has undergone a significant shift. What is it like for migrants though? What skills are in demand and which regions need migrants the most?

australia-labour-force-chartEmigration Store - Australian Labour Force

Current Overview

According to the latest Labour Market Update (August 2014) produced by the Department of Employment,

Australia-unemployment-rate-by-state

What skills are in demand?

Across different industries, there have been varied rates of employment growth. Whilst sectors such as Health Care & Social Assistance saw an increase of nearly 50,000 jobs, Wholesale Trade saw a fall of 53,600 and Accommodation & Food Services fell by 45,400.

However, some of these sectors are very large employers, with Health Care & Social Assistance (the largest sector by total of numbers employed) employing over 12% of the workforce as can be seen in the table below.

Employment-by-Industry-Australia-chart

Whilst there is an ongoing need for skills in certain areas, it is important to note that the skills shortages of a few years ago are reducing. In part this is due to better training availability and an overall softer labour market.

In 2013, Australian employers were more successful in filling skilled jobs than any time in the previous 5 years. Generally, there will always be demand for skilled candidates with good levels of skills and qualifications but just because there is a particular shortage in any given area doesn’t mean that migrants should target that particular sector to seek work.

How Do Migrant Workers Fare?

Many people are drawn by the availability of jobs in Australia but the experience of migrants working in Australia can vary to quite a degree. Whilst the survey data doesn’t breakdown the success of migrants by the type of visa they entered the Australian workforce with, it does provide an indication of the relative success of different nationalities.

Also, on average, and as you may expect, recent arrivals also have a higher unemployment rate than those who have learned how to navigate the labour market and have relevant experience of work in Australia.

jobs-in-australia-migrant-workers-unemployment-chart

A variety of factors influence the unemployment rates of migrants and they include


•    Skill level
•    Work experience (recent and relevant)
•    Age
•    English language skills


The level of skills is obviously a very important factor. Those migrants who came to work in Australia based on their skills being in high demand are likely to find it easier to remain employed than those who perhaps have entered the country as a refugee.

Generally, the more skilled occupations, Managers and Professionals, have lower unemployment rates and higher job growth rates as well. In the 12 months to February 2014 Managers had a growth rate of 2.6% and an unemployment rate of 2.1%. By contrast, Labourers, categorised as the least skilled group, saw a growth rate of -2% and an unemployment rate of 7.1%.

Labour Market Outlook

The Department of Employment projects employment growth across industry and region based on the Australia Bureau of Statistics employment data and the government’s own forecasts and projections. What the analysis doesn’t do is to factor in current government policies. The government is keen to see an economic rebalancing away from commodities to a more services-orientated economy.

Do you have the skills that are going to be in demand?

As at November 2013, the analysis provides extremely useful data for migrants planning on moving to Australia. Overall, in the five years to November 2018, employment is expected to grow by nearly 840,000 (over 7%) and to be broadly based (with growth in 16 of the 19 broad categories of employment). However, declines are projected for Manufacturing, Mining and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing. 

Skills to improve your chances of employment

What are Australian employers looking for when they are looking to employ someone? Well, there will obviously be a series of skills designed to meet the specific needs of the role they are looking to fill. You will need relevant, timely experience which will demonstrate an aptitude for the job.

There are also the general skills which all employees are expected to have to provide a basic level of competence in the workplace. These so-called Employability skills are often regarded as prerequisites by employers so it is certainly worth ensuring that you have as many of these as possible, to as high a level as possible.

Eight Employability Skills

Communication includes effective listening and understanding, being assertive and persuasive, sharing information, using networks and being responsive in negotiations and to requests.

Team Work includes working with a wide range of people, understanding how a role contributes as part of a team, coaching, mentoring and giving feedback.

Problem Solving includes developing creative, innovative and practical solutions, applying a range of strategies to solve a problem, testing assumptions and resolving concerns.

Initiative and Enterprise includes adapting to new situations, developing effective work practices, identifying opportunities and translating ideas into action.

Planning and Organising includes managing time and priorities by setting goals and timelines, coordinating tasks, being resourceful and working systematically.

Self-Management includes having a personal vision and goals, evaluating and monitoring one’s own performance, having clarity and confidence and taking responsibility.

Learning includes being willing to learn, being open to new ideas and techniques and proactive involvement in training opportunities.

Technology includes having a basic understanding of word processing, spreadsheets, the Internet and email and an ability to adapt to new and emerging technologies.

Which sectors are going to see the best employment opportunities?

THere are a number of sectors where the outlook for those wanting to move and work in Australia is relatively positive. The highest growth rate is expected in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector, partly in response to an ageing population and partly due to increasing demand for child care services. This industry is expected to contribute nearly one quarter of all the employment growth forecast, increasing by 16.3% or nearly 230,000 jobs.

Education and Training is projected to increase by 13.3% or nearly 120,000, driven by a growth in the school-age population and ongoing increases in the number of part-time workers and non-teaching staff.

Also expecting strong growth is the Retail Trade, with a projected rise of 7.8% or nearly 100,000 jobs. Improved consumer confidence and the likely low level of interest rates for the foreseeable future are the main drivers for this growth.

Growth of 9.9% is expected in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, with over 88,000 new jobs created. Those subsectors with exposure to the mining industry are expected to see growth slow to relatively muted levels. Sectors connected with IT and Legal and Accountancy are forecast to see the highest growth.

Low interest rates are also expected to support the Construction industry with growth expected in the region of 8% or nearly 84,000 jobs.

Which sectors offer the least rosy prospects?

In line with many other developed Western economies, Manufacturing has been suffering from low cost competition in Asia and elsewhere. Employment is actually expected to fall to November 2018 by over 40,000 jobs, or 4.3%. In large part this is due to the decline in car making, with Ford and Toyota reducing production capacity in Australia.

As China looks to rebalance its own economy away from construction and exports, global demand for primary commodities remains uncertain. Government policy reflects the desire to reduce Australia’s reliance on the Mining sector as a major contributor of growth. Vast investment in new mines and the necessary infrastructure to export them is expected to slow and jobs are forecast to shrink by over 12,000 in the industry, or 4.5%.

Another industry where the job prospects look less than rosy is Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing. With ongoing investment in mechanisation, the total number of people employed is expected to fall by round 3,000 or 0.9%.

Where To Live In Australia?