Industries where in-demand skills remain buoyant post-Covid

As we close out in 2020, Australia’s in-demand skills have shifted from the start of the year. Now, as we head into one of the worst recessions in recent history, a number of industries are flailing, while others are booming. Today, we take a look at those industries that continue to have a high demand for workers, and the in-demand skills they seek.

It’s important to note, the competition for jobs in Australia right now is slowly decreasing. However, after months of financial difficulties, many households across the country are still struggling to catch up.

Back in September, The Australian Financial Review reported on a rebound of hiring levels across a number of industries.

“After stalling in August, hiring recovery resumed in September as lockdown measures have started to ease and we are optimistic that recovery will continue as businesses start re-opening,” Adam Gregory, Senior Director at LinkedIn Talent Solutions.

For now, let’s take a look at the industries where in-demand skills remain buoyant.

In-Demand Skills: Which Industries?

When the pandemic kicked in at the start of 2020, the industries with the highest demand for workers were already struggling to meet business demands with the right talent. Specifically, these industries were:

  • Healthcare
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing

According to PwC, these are the industries set to flourish in the post-pandemic world.

But, there’s a major caveat here and it’s this:  these industries are changing.

And fast.

Digitisation, augmentation and technology disruption are all having rapid and rampant effects on the capacity, output and skills requirements of each.

The roles and in-demand skills in healthcare, construction and manufacturing are being automated, augmented and created to suit these new world conditions. Now, let’s have a look at each of these industries, in isolation.


The COVID crisis has completely reconfigured the healthcare system in Australia. Across most capital cities – Melbourne in particular – the public hospital system experienced unprecedented stress levels, in ICU demand and capacity.

Technology became a crucial component of the system, as telehealth became an essential service to the broader community.

Sub-sectors in healthcare have suffered a great deal as well. Aged care, elective surgery and private hospitals have all taken a hit, in different ways.

Still, the federal government expects the healthcare industry to continue adding jobs at 15% annually.

Key challenges in healthcare include:

  • Talent retention
  • Ageing workforce
  • The need for talent to upskill to the era of digital and tech capabilities
  • AI and robotics skills are in short supply and are foreseen as critical in the near-term

In the post-pandemic jobs market, the in-demand skills needed for our healthcare system to thrive, include:

  • A symbiosis of skills encompassing leading-edge tech coupled with the all-important human, soft skills
  • Being able to collaborate with teams across multiple healthcare disciplines
  • Digital IQ, particularly in the specialist areas of robotics and AI
  • The key worker shortage will be nurses. PwC estimates a shortage of 120,000 nurses by 2030


Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, placed a significant support structure behind the construction industry in 2020, meaning it was one of few industries able to continue operations, albeit at lower output.

Despite a predicted decline in residential construction activity, a likely uptick in other segments of the industry is flagged for growth.

Which means, more workers will be needed.

A concerning issue with the construction sector remains:  the declining apprenticeship sign-up rates – down by 23% since 2010. As a result, when the industry turns over workers due to retirement, there’s a real concern Australia won’t have the skilled workers ready to fill these gaps, via apprenticeships.

Another factor looming in the construction industry is the issue of digitisation and technology. The industry has not bent to the influences of the high-tech world, but changes are imminent. It’s expected that over 30% of the industry’s jobs will be augmented by technology within 15 years. This shift will require workers to upskill and retrain to stay relevant to the industry’s high-tech demands.

With so many sub-sectors active in the construction industry, the opportunities presented by technology and digitisation are particularly exciting.

In Melbourne, the company Unitised Building, literally created a new form of prefab development, itself becoming known as ‘unitised building’. They turned unproductive construction sites – such as the site in Melbourne’s CBD deemed unsuitable for development due to a subterranean power station – into a live, fully functional development. The process was cheaper, faster and safer than conventional building and construction methods, all driven by a digital development model.

You can read more about this work, right here.

For the short-term, however, these are the in-demand skills the industry is calling for:

  • Project Administrators
  • Technicians for Architectural, Building and Surveying
  • Civil Engineering Professionals
  • Electricians
  • Carpenters and Joiners

The federal government this year, has committed a big budget spend to boost a post-COVID-19 recovery across most corners of the industry. This includes:

  • $1.2billion wage subsidy for apprenticeships and trainees
  • $7.25billion on transport infrastructure
  • $688million homebuilder scheme


Australia’s manufacturing hey-day of the ’60s has well and truly disappeared… well, for the most part. The cost of production amongst other factors, lead to off-shoring of most items previously manufactured here – from textiles to motor vehicles.

Yet when COVID-19 hit, there was a mass reassessment of the industry, given the vulnerabilities exposed due to our reliance on imports.

Even before the pandemic hit, globally, the manufacturing industry had started shifting to a more profitable, streamlined operation – what’s known as the Industry 4.0 practices (which you can read more about from McKinsey, here). These practices cover four key technologies, applied across the entire supply chain:

in-demand skills


Source: McKinsey & Company

The adoption of these practices hasn’t been straightforward in Australia. Access to technologies, a lack of knowledge and skills gaps have all kept the industry stagnant.

Now, as we start to navigate a post-pandemic world, the federal government has again made a big industry commitment. In the 2020/2021 budget, the government has committed $1.5billion over four years, into what it calls the ‘Modern Manufacturing Strategy’.

This includes the following:

  1. The Modern Manufacturing Initiative:  $1.3 billion strategically funnelled into “projects that help manufacturers to scale up and create jobs”.
  2. Manufacturing Modernisation Fund:  receives a $52.8 million expansion to help individual companies within priority sectors.
  3. Supply Chain Resilience Initiative:  $107.2 million will go to projects that address an “identified supply chain vulnerability”.

With a heavy focus on digital technology, the in-demand skills across the industry are set to change. PwC reports that 33% of manufacturing jobs will be augmented or digitised over the next 15 years, calling for a reimagined balance of human and tech outputs. Exciting times.

Notice a trend here?

The in-demand skills across all three industries focus heavily on digitisation, augmentation, technology collaboration and automation. Already, the signs of a different world post-pandemic are evident. Now, the in-demand skills for this era are also set to change.


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