National Skills Commission report outlines the COVID-19 shock to Australia’s labour market

A snapshot in time: Australia’s Labour Market and COVID-19. Images of Australians at work

The National Skills Commission has released its first public report, A snapshot in time: Australia’s Labour Market and COVID-19.

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The first public report from the National Skills Commission provides a snapshot of the current state of Australia’s labour market.

The newly-formed National Skills Commission (NSC) has released its first public report, A snapshot in time: Australia’s Labour Market and COVID-19. The report reveals the scale of the economic challenge facing Australian workers and businesses as we plan a COVID-19 recovery.

For the first time in over 20 years Australia’s unemployment rate has risen to over 7 per cent, while employment fell by over 835,000 from March to May.

NSC data shows that young people have been greatly impacted by COVID-19, accounting for around 45 per cent of the total decline in employment in May, despite comprising just 16 per cent of the population. This has resulted in youth unemployment surging to 16.1 per cent.

There has also been a decrease in female employment, falling by 117,700 in May following a fall of 328,000 in April (this being the largest monthly decline on record). While females comprise 46.9 per cent of total employment in May 2020, they have accounted for 53.4 per cent of the decrease in employment over the past two months.

The report provides a clear picture of what is happening in the labour market, where the biggest changes are occurring as well as examining the current and future skills Australians need to get jobs.

The report highlights that while very modest signs of recovery are emerging, for example there is a small increase in employers looking to hire, much uncertainty remains about what jobs will be in demand.

Interim National Skills Commissioner, Adam Boyton said the newly formed NSC has come into being at a critical time.

“We need to make sure that as the recovery progresses, skills shortages don’t hold us back. By looking at what skills can transfer from one industry to another, and focusing on skilling and reskilling workers, we can better connect job seekers with ways to help get them back into jobs,” Adam said.

“Matching workers to jobs in a rapidly changing environment means that we must find new and innovative ways to quickly identify skills needs and retrain people for jobs that are in demand.

“While some of our work is in its infancy, it nonetheless has the potential to provide the evidence and analysis needed for meaningful reform to our education and training system, the backbone of a strong and prosperous future Australia.”

The NSC will publish reports and data that outline the likely skills needs of the economy, including an annual State of Skills report. The inaugural report is available to view on the National Skills Commission website.

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