“It’s hard to see that recovering this year,” he said.
Professor Lewis said the mining sector was doing well because the Chinese economy was growing and people who have been fortunate to keep their jobs had more savings to spend on retail. Apart from food and alcohol, retail took a huge hit at the start of the pandemic, but had since recovered. Many consumers who had kept their jobs had record savings and had been unable to spend money on travel.
“The service sector comprises a large portion of people in the public service and their jobs have been protected because governments have been loath to lay people off during this crisis,” he said.
IBISWorld has forecast key industries it says are likely to provide significant employment opportunities in the next five years. They include salt, lithium and other mineral mining; digital advertising; organic farming; online food ordering and delivery platforms; and performing arts.
IBISWorld senior analyst Suzy Oo said revenue and employment in the mineral mining industry were expected to fall by more than 7 per cent this financial year but revenue across the industry was expected to rise significantly in the next five years.
She said growing demand for lithium products including batteries were expected and mining industry operators would be looking at hiring more geotechnical engineers, process plant operators, laboratory technicians and environmental consultants.
Employment opportunities in the digital advertising industry were also expected to rise by nearly 7 per cent in 2020-21.
“Many Australians are constantly attached to their smartphones, tablets and other devices, and this provides a lucrative opportunity for businesses to market their products and brands through paid ads on social media platforms,” Ms Oo said. “However, developing an effective marketing campaign and remaining consistent across all media can be difficult for businesses to manage, raising the need to outsource their marketing requirements to digital advertising agencies.”
Sydney-based digital marketer Neva Read is among people who have seen an increase in work opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms Read used online employment platform Fiverr to secure a steady flow of work last year.
After working for major corporations for many years, Ms Read decided to branch out on her own in 2016 and has seen an increase in demand for her services to run marketing campaigns for clients around the world.
“More and more companies are looking for value for money and dealing one-on-one,” she said. “During COVID-19, I saw a huge uptick in interest in my work. A lot of companies were looking to redefine themselves. Given the impact of COVID-19, they needed to go online and digital and reach consumers in a new way.”
Peggy de Lange from Fiverr said the pandemic has changed the way people were working and how businesses were run.
“As a large majority of the Australian workforce remains flexibly remote, we’ve seen a seismic shift towards a project-based workforce comprising skilled freelancers,” she said.
IBIS has also predicted a rise in demand for organic food products in coming years and online food delivery.
“Greater demand from the restaurants and fast food and takeaway tood services industries and rising real household discretionary incomes will likely drive industry expansion over the next five years,” Ms Oo said.
Despite the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on public gatherings, employment in the performing arts industry was also expected to grow by 7.7 per cent in 2020-21.
“An increase in government funding for heritage and arts is anticipated to contribute largely to industry growth in the short-term, as state governments ramp up expenditure to fill the hole in the arts and culture sector caused by the pandemic,” Ms Oo said.
Anna Patty is a Senior Writer for The Sydney Morning Herald with a focus on higher education. She is a former Workplace Editor, Education Editor, State Political Reporter and Health Reporter.