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The changes and challenges facing regional labour markets

The Australian economy has experienced a high degree of structural and technological change over the past three decades. Significant changes will continue, with the decline of the manufacturing sector, the increasing use of mechanisation and technology in the mining and agricultural sectors, and with the growing role of computerisation and robotics in the workplace in general. The effects of such changes to date have included better pay and more employment opportunities for those whose skills are in demand, but it has also meant lower relative pay and fewer job opportunities for low-skilled and unskilled workers and for workers whose jobs have been replaced by technological development. Structural change leaves workers in industries that are in long-term relative decline with fewer employment opportunities which can lead to entrenched long-term unemployment. Technological change impacts on the types of jobs available within industries and the skills required. The purpose of this paper is to examine the regional dimension to labour market change and determine which areas are likely to be most at risk as the economy continues to experience changes in sectoral mix and in the types of jobs and the skills required.