Sunday Herald Sun


Despite low wage growth and an economy recovering from the pandemic, you can grow your pay packet with the right skills


THE average Aussie is unlikely to see a pay rise in 2021 as the economy continues to run below capacity, but experts predict pockets of wage growth in specific high-skilled areas.

Australia’s wage price index — measuring the change in price of labour — maintained its historical­ly low annual growth rate of 1.4 per cent for a second quarter in the three months to December.

Education and training (up 2.4 per cent year on year) and electricit­y, gas, water and waste services (2 per cent) were the strongest industries, while accommodat­ion and food services (0.3 per cent) and rental, hiring and real estate services (0.7 per cent) were weakest.

Commonweal­th Bank head of Australian economics Gareth Aird said wage growth would likely “step up a little bit this year” but it was still expected to be low.

“Low wages growth doesn’t mean no wages growth, just that the average person isn’t getting all that much by way of a pay rise,” Mr Aird said.

“It was the case pre-COVID and was the case for a while.

“The environmen­t needed to generate wages growth would be a tight labour market, so low unemployme­nt, and for that to happen you need an economy running at capacity,” he said.

“There is a lot of stimulus out there from the government and the Reserve Bank but clearly COVID is holding back the economy at the moment.”

Employment agency Michael Page Australia senior managing director Sharmini Wainwright said this year would be focused on getting more people employed rather than on increasing wages. “Genuine pay rises across the board will have a more material effect next year onwards,” she said.

“There are a few steps in (economic) recovery and we are probably in step one or two, whereas material pay rises come in step three or four.” Despite this, Ms Wainwright said salaries were definitely increasing in parts of the technology sector. “This is probably one of our most resilient sectors,” she said.

“If we had 100 more candidates we could place them in a week. “(Experience­d) data analysts and engineers, data scientists, cybersecur­ity analysts — demand for these individual­s exceeds supply.”

She also predicted salary growth for specific marketing and human resources roles. “Traditiona­l marketing roles are very flat, if not salaries have perhaps gone backwards, but on the positive side, any role in CRM (customer relationsh­ip management) expertise or focused on digital performanc­e, those salaries are definitely going up,” she said. “In HR, the bright spot is health and safety specialist­s as there is such a skill shortage in high regulation environmen­ts.”

Mr Aird predicted there may also be pockets of wage growth in the constructi­on sector to keep up with the “huge amount” of public investment in the pipeline, increased lending for residentia­l renovation­s and new builds spurred by the federal government’s HomeBuilde­r package. Meanwhile, in Adelaide specifical­ly, Recruitmen­t Consulting

and Staffing Associatio­n (RCSA) chief executive Charles Cameron said recruiters expected strong demand for highly skilled talent in advanced manufactur­ing, which would lead to salary increases.

“They say the industry is going to boom and become recession-proof for Australia in the future,” Mr Cameron said. “It plays into the desire of Australia to become less reliant on

overseas manufactur­ing. It will be more technical knowledge and profession­als.”

Those looking for highly paid jobs can hedge their bets for a six-figure salary by pursuing a career in mining or technology.

While $100,000-plus careers are possible in every sector, exclusive analysis of Seek job ads revealed 91 of

352 occupation­al groups averaged a pay packet of this size and they were dominated by these two sectors.

They included 14 mining, resources and energy jobs ranging from analysis and reporting ($101,929) through to management ($148,511), and 12 informatio­n and communicat­ion technology (ICT) jobs ranging from network engineerin­g ($100,919)

I wrote down my transferab­le skills but I had some gaps and that’s what started my transforma­tion journey MARLEESE ATTILAKOS

through to management ($138,999) — as well as nine jobs in engineerin­g, nine in banking and finance, eight in legal and seven in accounting.

There were also six healthcare and medical occupation­s, including the number one and two highest advertised salaries: general practition­ers averaging $183,092 and medical specialist­s averaging $148,991.

Seek employment analyst Leigh Broderick said the main factors influencin­g which jobs attracted the big bucks were level of specialisa­tion and mismatch of supply and demand.

“More specialise­d skills or harderto-get skills will attract higher salaries,” he said. “Mining is a good example of (supply and demand) as there can be a huge surge in the need for different skills on remote sites and if there is no one out there to do it, to entice people out there, they have to increase the price.”

The RCSA’s Mr Cameron said the risk and profile associated with a role were also factors.

“The higher the risk that results from an error, the higher the salary that can be demanded — obvious examples are senior lawyers or senior surgeons or CEOs,” he said.

“Meanwhile, if you want to work in industries that are high-profile — media, entertainm­ent, sports administra­tion, even some tech firms — you are going to be competing against a larger supply of candidates.

“Although it looks great, it doesn’t necessaril­y pay great.”

The Seek data revealed 11 sectors where it was particular­ly difficult to land a $100,000-plus pay packet.

There were no occupation­s averaging six figures within administra­tion and office support; advertisin­g, arts and media; call centre and customer service; community services and developmen­t; design and architectu­re; farming, animals and conservati­on; government and defence; hospitalit­y and tourism; retail and consumer products; sport and recreation or trades and services.

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 ?? Picture: JOSIE HAYDEN ?? Marleese Attilakos landed a promotion after studying with Swinburne Online.
Picture: JOSIE HAYDEN Marleese Attilakos landed a promotion after studying with Swinburne Online.

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