Aussies who work in the healthcare, manufacturing and construction sectors are feeling the most optimistic about their jobs for the second half of the year, a new survey has revealed.
According to a new report commissioned by Xero and conducted by social demographer Bernard Salt, workers in these sectors reported the most confidence in their industry over the next six months.
“Jobs surged during these most troubling of times in agribusiness (the drought broke), in procurement (toilet paper, perhaps), as chief executives (sole traders, probably), as web developers, and as artisans in a series of craftrelated activities including leather-goods workers, jewellery designers and, my personal favourite, boat builders,” said Salt.
Some Australian workers used the crisis as an opportunity to pursue interests, hobbies, set up a business and pivot in a new direction, he added.
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Meanwhile, Australia’s least hopeful workers are those in the professional services, accommodation and food and education and training sectors.
Fewer than one-in-four businesses (23 per cent) anticipate revenue will rise beyond 10 per cent by December.
But nearly half of all businesses (49 per cent) surveyed said they were confident about the rest of the year.
“Here we are in the middle of both a pandemic and the worst recession in three generations. The fact that half of all small businesses remain optimistic about their prospects in the second half of the year says something about the sheer determination and inherent optimism of the small business community in Australia,” said Salt.
Businesses that thrived during the pandemic adapted their operations, found new customer markets, and made work arrangements more flexible.
Well-performing businesses also invested in technology, and are looking to increase their investment even further in the next three months.
Manufacturing power: $50bn GDP boost, 400,000 new jobs
According to new research by the Australian Institute’s Centre for Future Work, Australia’s manufacturing sector is so under-utilised that investing in this sector could result in a significant boost to the domestic economy.
“Australia ranks last in manufacturing self-sufficiency among all OECD countries,” said economist and director Jim Stanford.
“Australians use $565 billion worth of manufactures each year, however, we only produce $380 billion. Therefore, Australia produces only 68 per cent – just over two-thirds – of what we use,” he said.
If we were to produce as much as we consume, we could see $180 billion per year in new sales, $50 billion in new GDP, and more than 400,000 new direct jobs in manufacturing, as well as 265,000 new jobs throughout the manufacturing supply chain.
This would be an “ambitious, long-term goal,” according to Stanford, but “very reasonable”. Ultimately, the choice to invest would be up to the government.
“Government possesses powerful policy tools and levers to begin to move us,” he said.
“The biggest question is whether our leaders have the political will and imagination to seize the opportunity presented by the current moment, and start the process of revitalising our domestic value-added industrial base.”
Jobs that grew during the pandemic
In the peak of the pandemic between 20 February and 20 May, some jobs more than tripled in demand.
According to the Xero report, multimedia specialists and web developers saw 217 per cent increase in job numbers, while the number of legislator jobs grew by 195 per cent.
Survey interviewer jobs more than doubled at 119 per cent, as did agricultural, forestry and horticultural plant operator jobs which grew by 111 per cent.
Actuaries, mathematicians and statistician jobs also grew by 73 per cent during the pandemic, and speech pathologists and therapist roles rose by 68 per cent.
Psychiatrists were also highly sought-after, with these jobs rising by 65 per cent.
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