New employment figures highlight boom in health care

Health and social assistance has overtaken retail as Australia’s biggest employment sector, according to new data, suggesting start-ups should investigate business opportunities within this industry.


The latest employment figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal health and social assistance took on an additional 57,200 workers in the year to May.


This was followed by education and training, adding 44,400 people to its workforce, while retail took on an extra 44,000 despite a downturn within the industry.


In fourth place was the finance sector, adding another 38,100 people to its ranks. Meanwhile, the mining sector added 35,200 workers, bringing its total workforce to 217,100 Australians, up from 181,800 a year ago.


CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian says when it comes to growth, the mining sector stands “head and shoulders” above the rest.


While mining has recorded the largest growth in percentage terms, increasing its employment figure by 19.2%, healthcare and social assistance has recorded the biggest sectoral rise.


The figures aren’t overly surprising – Australia’s ageing population continues to put pressure on the healthcare system and aged care sector.


A recent report by the Productivity Commission reveals the number of Australians aged 85 and over is projected to increase from 400,000 in 2010 to 1.8 million by 2050.


According to Paul Wheeler, of aged care franchise Senior Helpers, the statistics around aged care indicate the sector will experience phenomenal growth, making it a highly lucrative industry.


“Once upon a time, no one reached 85, so there wasn’t the need for people to go into nursing homes like there is now. It’s also become apparent that elderly people want to stay in their homes,” he says.


Wheeler’s comments are in line with the findings of the Productivity Commission, which forecasts new growth areas within the sector.


“There is an increasing diversity among older Australians in their preferences and expectations, including a greater desire for independent living and culturally relevant care,” the report says.


“The aged care workforce will need to expand at a time of ‘age induced’ tightening of the overall labour market, an expected relative decline in family support and informal carers, and strong demand for health workers from other parts of the health system.”


“New, cost-effective, assistive and information technologies offer some opportunities for productivity gains and higher quality care.”


As the health and social assistance sector starts to expand, other sectors are well and truly struggling in the current economic climate, namely manufacturing.


The ABS employment data reveals manufacturing has recorded a net loss of 5,100 workers over the year to May, largely due to the crippling effect of the high Australian dollar.


This confirms the results of the latest ACCI-Westpac Survey of Industrial Trends, which reveals a mixed outlook for manufacturers as external factors increasingly dictate their operations.


“Escalating concerns over the strength of the Australian dollar, the imposition of new taxes, soft demand from the household sector, and global political and economic uncertainties are dampening demand,” Greg Evans, of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told StartupSmart.


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