The labour market in Australia

The Australian labour market
Updated 2023-06-08 09:31

The labour market in Australia is huge and has continued to grow over the last two decades. It is expected to continue this growth for the next five years, so if you are looking to make a move to Australia for work, now is the time. Job vacancies rose by 1.7 per cent, which allows lower competition for job openings.

Wages and unemployment

Australia boasts some of the highest wages in the world, a huge drawcard for expats to relocate to Australia. The current minimum hourly wage is AUD 18.93, which equates to $719.20 weekly for a full 38-hour work week. This is a federally mandated minimum that Australian businesses must pay to their employees as of July 2018. However, it has been argued that the wage, though higher than most, has grown slowly next to the rising cost of living. Despite this, most people live comfortably.

Unemployment across Australia has remained steady at 5 per cent even with 200,000 new jobs being created each year. However, when compared to unemployment statistics with the rest of the world, Australia sits in the middle; higher than Germany, the United States and England, but lower than Canada and France.

Working hours and culture

The legal working week is set at 38 hours per week, with four weeks paid holiday granted per year. Although the traditional business hours are 9 am to 5 pm, many businesses offer flexibility with working hours, and working hours can vary from early starts of 7 am, to later starts at 10 am. Employees are also granted personal leave of at least ten days per year, which can cover illness or leave required to care for a loved one. In addition to the annual and personal leave, staff are entitled to public holidays, which may be national or state-specific.

Australians are known for their relaxed and flexible lifestyles, and this culture extends to the workplace. While it is important to always act and dress in a professional manner, you may find that suits, ties, and formal business attire may not be required in your workplace as they are in other countries. Australian workplaces can also be very social, with morning teas, office lunches, or Friday afternoon drinks being common. Participating is a great way to get to know your new colleagues. It can be said that Australian employers put more trust in their employees, hence the more flexible workplace and due to the reasonably stable market, people feel secure in their jobs, adding to the relaxed style. But don't underestimate the work ethic; Australians work hard.


A good level of spoken and written English is an important skill when applying for jobs within Australia. If you are planning a move to Australia, consider taking English language classes, either before you relocate or once you are in Australia. Australian community centres, colleges, and even churches often offer English classes for non-native English speakers, at low cost. English classes can be a great way to improve your skills and even meet new people.

Growing industries

If you are looking to move to Australia for work, there are a few industries you should keep an eye on as they are expected to grow over the next five years.

Healthcare and social assistance, which includes hospitals, ambulatory health care services, and nursing, is set to grow, employing over 1.5 million people in Australia. University degrees and training is needed for this area. Retail trade is also set to grow, hiring an extra 45,000 people in the next five years. This industry includes food retailing and other store-based retailing. Despite construction looking to lay off thousands of people, it is still ranked the third biggest industry, looking to hire more than 120,000 people in the next five years. Degrees are not usually needed. Professional, scientific, and technical services are expected to grow by 12.5 per cent in the next five years. Most of these jobs are city based and include legal and accounting and computer system design. The fifth most significant industry in Australia is education and training, with a 12 per cent increase in jobs over the next five years. The industry includes all types of education from preschool to tertiary.

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