How to be a competitive contractor in the changing world of work

The modern Australian workforce is in a state of upheaval. Just look at the rise of the contingent workforce – Australia’s job market has seen a 43% increase in the number of advertised temporary, contract and casual jobs since 2013.

There’s no doubt that contract work is here to stay – but which jobs are on the rise, which jobs aren’t, and what should you do to give yourself the best chance? With entire industries rising and falling overnight, the most successful contractors are those that have the agility and foresight to understand changes in the market and adapt to their environment.

In this article, we’ve analysed the jobs most likely to be in demand, the jobs which aren’t, and what you can do to be competitive. If you’re a contractor interested in the changing world of work, read on.

Where are the jobs?

According to the latest Australian Jobs report, there are around 12.7 million people employed in Australia, with over 3,800,000 being contingent workers. Currently, the majority of these contractors have white-collar opposed to blue-collar roles.

The three main areas of growth include:

  • Health care and social assistance – Healthcare remains the largest employing industry in Australia. With Australia’s ageing population and the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the demand for nurses, aged care workers and disability support carers is only set to increase. The Australian Jobs report outlines that this industry is projected to have ‘the strongest employment growth of any industry over the five years to May 2023’. As such, there’s an enormous shortage of qualified contingent professionals to meet the demand for high-paying medical jobs, particularly with hospices and assisted living facilities.
  • Financial and insurance services – Employers in the financial services and insurance industry remain one of the biggest employers of contingent talent. In the last six months, demand for contingent labour has skyrocketed by 7%. As we’ve outlined in previous blogs, financial services clients are experiencing a declining pool of permanent talent in key finance skills, such as IT, project management & key areas of knowledge (for example, commercial underwriting). Through our work with Macquarie Bank, Medibank and Transurban, we’ve seen this demand firsthand.
  • Education and Training – Finally, education is projected to increase dramatically by 2023 – attributed primarily to a growing population and a demand for adults returning to reskill for their careers. In the past, people involved in education and academia have worked in permanent roles; however, with the tapering off of the Federal Government Funding package, and the closure of a number of private schools, full-time engagements have dramatically reduced. Right now, education is the biggest employer of contractor workers – 7% of all staff.

These three industries should be the key areas of focus for any contract workers looking to capitalise on the shifting workforce of the future.

competitive contractor in Australian workforce

Where aren’t the jobs?

Not all jobs are on the rise – while healthcare, financial services and education are hotbeds for employment, there are a number of industries that are sharply declining. According to the Committee for economic development of Australia, 40% of Australian jobs will cease to exist in the next 10 years.

The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business predicts that these industries will have employment falls:

  • Machinery and equipment wholesaling – down 8.1%
  • Printing – down 4.3%
  • Agriculture – down 4%
  • Polymer and rubber manufacturing – down 3.2%

The decline of these labour heavy jobs is somewhat attributable to the rise of technology, automation and the disruption of the internet. It’s unlikely there will be an explosion of contractor opportunities in these industries in the near future.

What you can do to find work

With huge shifts in the workforce landscape, contractors need to embrace change and have flexibility. The days of a job for life are long gone – these days, workers can expect to change roles on a frequent basis, and even start in an entirely different industry or location. Contractors with easily transferable skills, as well as those with the ability to adapt, are most likely to succeed.

According to the Australian Jobs report, having ‘the ability to gain new skills and apply existing skills to new contexts will be critical to success in the changing labour market’. Contractors need to constantly self improve – not only seeking education on the job, but finding relevant short courses, seminars or online learning. Additionally, employers are looking for contractors with the right cultural fit – that means emotional intelligence and people skills.

Tom Larter, the CEO of large technology firm WithYouWithMe, says ‘Jobs are changing so fast, you need to get into your first job and then use lifelong learning to build out your skills – we’ve got to speed up the rate that we learn new skills’.

Finally, partner with an organisation that can give you work. CXC operates a talent marketplace called Workforce Exchange, designed to help our contractors find further quality assignments. Our talent pool supplies clients with contractors across energy and resources, telecommunications, technology, infrastructure, media, FMCG and consulting and professional services.