Work ahead for WA economy as it seeks to grow post COVID 19

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting global trends have the potential to accelerate and generate long-term structural change in the WA economy.

Committee for Perth’s latest FACTBase Bulletin Future of Work: The Transformation of Jobs in Western Australia and Greater Perth warns of the potential for a skills shortage and increased unemployment should government and industry not develop a strong understanding of the domestic and global drivers impacting the structural composition of the WA economy.

Committee for Perth CEO Marion Fulker said understanding these drivers would provide opportunities for a coordinated and proactive response to maintain positive job growth in the short to medium term.

“Researchers have highlighted the potential for the acceleration of trends towards e-commerce and automation along with a growth in the health sector as a result of the pandemic,” Mrs Fulker said.

“At the same time, the potential for a shift towards local manufacturing (particularly in the health science sector) and for heightened global and regional competition in the service sector (as the tyranny of distance is overcome by technology) has been emphasised.

“These trends, if retained in the medium to long term, could provide new opportunities for growth, yet could also threaten some industries and jobs in Western Australia and Greater Perth.”

The bulletin also notes there are indicators the pandemic has had a bigger impact on jobs than suggested by the unemployment rate alone.

This can be surmised due to increased levels of underemployment, the fall in labour force participation rates and the strong uptake of JobKeeper.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant and rapid impact on employment in WA and Greater Perth and, to date, job losses in WA have been greatest in accommodation and food services; agriculture, forestry and fishing; rental, hiring and real estate services; and information, media and telecommunications sectors.

“While the impacts of COVID-19 are still unfolding, this bulletin seeks to map out what we know so far to help industry and government fully understand, and put into context, the potential job changes we will see in the coming years.”

The Bulletin is part of the Committee for Perth’s Major Project 2020-2021 the Future of Work: equipping WA and its people for the changing world of work.

The purpose of the research is to build a comprehensive understanding of how technology and automation, combined with relevant global and workforce megatrends and COVID-19, are impacting jobs, skill requirements and industry needs in WA.