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Will your job be in demand in Australia in 2021? I asked three experts to find out

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASON HENLEY

WORDS BY ALYCE GREER

What’s hot and what’s not.

The credits are about to roll on the Worst Year of All Time. COVID has had the decency to fuck off right before 2020 ends (in most of Australia, anyway), which is really the least it could do. In a pleasing case of timing, we will (hopefully) start a new year afresh.

But while every new year brings a clean slate, this one feels especially sparkly. Our country is no longer being strangled by a virus, we don’t have to work from our kitchen table anymore, and life, for the most part, is set to return the moment the calendar ticks over to January 1 2021 (right???).  

One of the major learnings from this year has been around work. At this time of year, it’s not uncommon for your mind to wander to other businesses or industries, but thanks to our friend ’rona, this has been magnified tenfold. We’re all wondering if our job will still be there next year and if we actually still like it. 

It’s no surprise big changes are coming. So, to better prepare us, I rounded up a couple of career experts to ask them which jobs will be booming and which jobs are on the decline. Here’s what’s hot – and what’s not – in the workforce. (Yes, quite possibly the least sexy hot or not list ever made.)

What’s hot

“Big growth areas are STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), data and technology-focused and basically anything that is fast-growing,” says Shelley Johnson from the My Millennial Career podcast.

“Also, the government is throwing a lot of money at psychology, as there is high demand in that space, particularly post-COVID where mental health support is needed.”

Shell’s co-host Emily Bowen agrees, noting these five jobs as the ones to watch. 

  • Developer or cybersecurity specialist
  • Project management
  • Nurse or care worker or psychologist
  • Construction
  • Teacher or early childhood educator 

“What all of these jobs have in common is that they rely on an ability to show compassion, tolerate ambiguity, be creative and interact in a uniquely human way,” says Emily.

What’s not

“Areas that are at-risk include anything where tasks can be automated through technology, so think routine-based work like accounts receivable and accounts payable, and administrative functions that are centred on process or systems, rather than people,” says Shelley.

Em also adds that with the drop in events and international travel, jobs in those fields will be sparse, too. See your job on this list? It doesn’t mean you should call your boss right now and tell him to shove it – but it could be worth thinking about where you see yourself in the not-too-distant future. 

  • Accounts clerk
  • Receptionist
  • Bank teller
  • Flight attendant
  • Events manager

“Moral of the story? I’d be encouraging people to build up the people-focused part of their role or navigate towards jobs with more of that in it. That will help to future proof your career,” says Shelley.

Design

Don’t worry, creatives. I haven’t forgotten you. There are some big changes on your horizon, too. 

“A lot of brands have been bringing new categories like loungewear and activewear into their companies to suit the ever-changing climate – meaning strong, experienced designers currently have and will continue to have opportunity as brands see certain categories grow and the need for designers to keep building these areas,” says Eliza Denahy, a recruitment specialist at Jivaro.

“Keep in mind it may be more challenging as an entry-level designer to break into the market in 2021 due to experienced designers being on the market. Brands may have a lot more control in 2021 due to such a competitive market.

“Our advice is to go above and beyond to ensure you stand out in 2021. Start networking, create relevant portfolios and take short/specialised courses to broaden your expertise!”

Buying

“This is an area that has seen significant impact, thanks to 2020. We believe next year will look extremely different across buying. Teams will be smaller in companies due to the fact that international travel for trades shows, trend research and sourcing will be limited and/or impossible,” says Eliza. 

“The best thing you can do is improve your planning/analytical skills and steer into this side of the role. Show that your skills as a buyer are adaptable so companies will see the value in you.”

Marketing and digital

“The digital and eCommerce space has grown massively in the past few years and will continue to do so in 2021. COVID-19 really highlighted how critical it is for brands to have a strong eCommerce site and digital presence,” says Eliza.  

“Various roles such as head of digital/eCommerce, eCommerce managers and digital marketing managers will continue to be in high demand as businesses need assistance from a strategic perspective. 

“This field is quite competitive for entry-level roles though, so I would recommend completing digital marketing or Google Analytics courses and becoming knowledgeable on current trends.”

My Millenial Career is hosted by Emily Bowen, a recruitment and customer experience specialist who is obsessively curious about the daily collision between business and humans, and Shelley Johnson, a human resources and management consultant whose focus is to see people achieve their personal career goals while enabling businesses to achieve theirs.

Alyce is a contributing writer for Fashion Journal and the director and head writer at Bossy, a Melbourne-based copywriting and content studio. You can find Bossy here and here.

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