CDU Job Bright - Research on Future Jobs in NT
GovHack Team - "Matrix 2108"
Yufan Sun, Jerry Wang, Dave Zhu, Betty Chen and Renton Xu
The Northern Territory Economic and Infrastructure Plan is updated annually by the Northern Territory (NT) Government. It detailed planned projects and investment for the next two to five years. Research on the plan will provide hints and guidelines on the future NT job markets. As the largest educational provider in the NT, Charles Darwin University (CDU) is committed to support a workforce that is skilled and agile.
This research aimed to help the CDU career center to identify future needs of the NT job market and skills required by the employer, in order to identify the skill gaps and consequently design and deliver customized employability programs and workshops for students to prepare them for the jobs of the future.
The report showed the methodology and the result for the analysis for the above questions, along with two matrices which visualized the potential workforce shortages and how well CDU's current enrollment status helped employability of CDU students. The report also provided recommendations from the research result which may help the university adjust enrollment and curriculum plan in order to meet the demand of the market.
Charles Darwin University (CDU) is the largest educational provider of tertiary education in the NT and it always aims to support the workforce of the NT by preparing students with the essential employability skills. Project job trend aimed to address two problems: first, it identified future jobs and skills shortages in the NT and discovered whether CDU's current enrollment of students would meet the demand. Second, it discussed whether essential employability skills were provided to CDU students to meet the demand of the job market.
Open data sets provided by the NT government and CDU are used to perform the analysis. This research was expected to help CDU to make informed decisions affecting student enrollment and curriculum designs. The research would provide a systematic approach using open data sets and continuing project trends for the university in future.
To identify future jobs and skill shortages in the Northern Territory, understanding the current job markets is required. From the government open data set, current employment data in different industries could be found. There were two major datasets used during the research: NT Economic Analysis by industries and Labor market insights by the National Skills Commission of the Australian Government. The research focused on the trend of the workforce in different industry sectors in the past 5 years.
As the second step of the research, the NT Infrastructure Plan and Pipeline provided insights into future investments and planned projects in the territory. Comparing the current job market with the demand from future projects, predictions on the skill shortages could be made. During this process, data with the following selection criteria are extracted:
Only investments and projects that need a workforce with professional skills trained in higher education (HE) or vocational education and training (VET). For example, projects and investments related to industries such as retail were out of scope.
Projects that were either underway or will take place within 5 years. Investments or projects which will not commerce in 5 years time were out of the scope due to the uncertainty.
To best prepare for the potential skill shortage, as the largest educational provider of tertiary education in the NT, it is very important for Charles Darwin University (CDU) to provide students with skills and employabilities for future needs. Therefore, the research also covered available fields of study and courses offered by CDU, including the new students enrollment data and graduates employment rate.
B.Workforce Shortage Assessment Matrix
By comparing the demand in the market with the current workforce status, along with the upcoming investment and projects, potential workforce shortages can be predicted. To best describe the prediction in a visualized product, a Workforce Shortage Assessment Matrix (WSAM) is introduced as criteria to assess levels of workforce shortage in different industry sectors. The representation of different colours was as follows:
A red grid in the matrix suggested that the industry sector would face a severe workforce shortage. In the past 5 years, the workforce in this industry increased on a small scale or decreased, when there would be more workforce demand in the future.
A yellow grid in the matrix suggested that the industry sector would face a medium workforce shortage. The increase in the workforce could barely meet the increase in demand of the job market.
A green grid in the matrix suggested that the industry sector would face little or no workforce shortage. The increase in the workforce could easily meet the future demand of the job market.
(Figure 1 - Workforce Shortage Assessment Matrix(WSAM))
Criteria used in the Matrix are as followed:
For the number of the projects, industry sectors with more than 12 projects (median number) in the future 5 years were considered as having "many projects".
For investments, industry sectors with more than 80 million dollars (median number) in the future 5 years were considered as having "high investment".
For industry workforce trends, industry sectors with an increased workforce of more than 20% in the past 5 years were considered having a "big increase in skilled employment".
For industry workforce trends, industry sectors with a decreased workforce of more than 20% in the past 5 years were considered to have a "big decrease in skilled employment".
Every industry sector was examined using the WSAM and a Power BI chart was created to present different levels of workforce shortage in the industries.
C.CDU Enrollment Assessment Matrix
Research on 2020-2021 CDU Annual Report revealed the numbers and trends of student enrollment in different fields of study. The gap between student enrollment figures with the estimated workforce shortages will provide CDU with a direction in adjusting enrollment and curriculum plans in order to meet the demand of the market. To visualize the gap between industry demand and CDU enrollment trends, the CDU Enrollment Assessment Matrix (CEAM) is introduced.
The representation of different colours was as following:
A red grid in the matrix suggested that not enough students were enrolled in the field of study and the workforce shortage issue could not be addressed at all.
A yellow grid in the matrix suggested that there were barely enough students enrolled in the field of study to resolve the workforce shortage problem in the future.
A green grid in the matrix suggested that there were enough students enrolled in the field.
(Figure 2 - CDU Enrollment Assessment Matrix)
Criteria used in the CDU Enrollment Assessment Matrix were as followed:
If a field of study had an increase in the enrollment of more than 6% between 2020 and 2021, it was considered to have a "Big increase in the field of study enrollment".
If a field of study had an increase in the enrollment of
less than 6% between 2020 and 2021, it was considered to have a "Small increase in the field of study enrollment".
Each field of study would be examined to see whether it belonged to an industry sector that had a great workforce shortage.
Results and Discussions
The current employment statistics comes from Australia Jobs 2021 Northern Territory report in the National Skills Commission. The total number of people in the employing industry is 1,324,000 by May 2021. The leading employment industries are Health Care and Social Assistance, Public Administration and Safety, Construction, and Education and Training, accounting for 17%, 17%, 9% and 8% of the workforce market share respectively.
(Figure 3.1 - Job Report in NT)
The engagement of employees in different industries varies according to the strategy of the Territory's economy and workforce market changes. The number of people who participated in the Administration and Support Services, Health Care and Social Assistance, and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services increased dramatically in the past 5 years, with 82.6%, 27.9% and 22.6% respectively, while industries like Mining, Wholesale Trade, and Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services faced a significant workforce turnover.
(Figure 3.2 - Job Trends in the Future)
The NT Infrastructure Plan and Pineline 2022 offers a thorough road map for the investment needed to realize the government's goal of a diversified and sustainable $40 billion economy by 2030. Top 3 industries that receive the most funds in 2022 are: Transportation & Logistics, Housing, and Landing, with 53 projects, 22 projects and 46 projects respectively, accounting for 63.3% of the whole investment.
(Figure 4 - NT Project Plan From 2022 to 2023)
There is not much change to the industries that obtain most of the investment in 2023, Utilities takes over Landing with 34 projects funded.
(Figure 5 - NT Project Plan From 2023 to 2024)
There will be many differences if taking the 5 years plan into consideration. The majority of the investment will go to Emerging industries (including Manufacturing, Data industries, Gas industries, Hydrogen, Renewable Energy, Space, Aviation Technology, Electric Vehicles, and Fertilizers), Tourism and Lifestyle (including Youth Facilities, Sports and Recreation, Retail and Business, Creative Industries, etc.). Emerging Industries itself shares 73.3% of the investment in the following 5 years and brings opportunities to the Territory.
(Figure 6 - 0-5 years NT Infrastructure Plan and Pipeline)
The following 2 years investment place focuses on Rail, Roads and Bridges, Industrial subdivision and Housing, which brings more opportunities to the Construction industry. The needs of construction related labours such as Civil engineers, Electricians will arise and possibly a minor workforce shortage as a result.
The Emerging industry will prosper in the Territory in the following 5 years. The biggest growth opportunities will come from Manufacturing, Data industries, Renewable energy, etc. A predictable workforce shortage in these industries will become a challenge for Northern Territory in the near future.
As the largest educational provider of tertiary education in the NT, CDU takes the responsibility to equip students with essential work-related skills and alter curriculum design to fit market needs. According to the 2020 - 2021 CDU annual report, there's a 23.1% increase (14673 students in 2021) in terms of the number of higher education students over the past 5 years, while the number of vocational education & training students decreased by 26.9% to 7657 over the past 5 years.
The curriculum and course structure CDU provided match the majority parts of the industries. After comparing the CDU students' enrolment statistics in different fields of study with the current labour market employment status and the NT Infrastructure Plan, the workforce requirements in different industries are listed below, CDU as an education provider could alter curriculum design as required to fit the change of labour market.
(Figure 7.1 - Student statistic comparison)
(Figure 7.2 - Student statistic percent comparison)
The following is the analysis results using WSAM and SEAM on fields of study in CDU.
- Result of step 1 - Find out workforce shortage
(Figure 8.1 - Work Shortage Assessment Matrix)
- Result of step 2 - Find out whether CDU can meet the workforce demand
(Figure 8.2 - CDU Enrollment Assessment Matrix)
There would be severe workforce shortage in the Engineering, Food, hospitality and personal services in the near future. CDU will face high pressure on meeting the workforce demand regarding Engineering, food, hospitality and services and Agriculture industry.
Emerging industries will play an important role in the Northern Territory Economy in the following 5 years. The Emerging industries consist of 9 sub-sectors, which makes it difficult to predict the workforce shortage only according to the amount of investments and the number of projects. Then the Infrastructure plan metadata is washed to explore large projects with a large amount of funds. Projects like DCI Data Centres and HyperOne will provide a large number of ICT jobs, while the number of students enrolled in ICT and Engineering did not increase. And there are other sub-sectors like the Gas industry, Hydrogen, Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicles that are not clearly reflected in the CDU curriculum. The Territory is committed to supporting the development of gas in a sustainable way and aims to capture 15% of the Australian hydrogen market by 2035. CDU could take this into consideration and prepare skilled staff to fit into these industries.
Limitations on skill shortages prediction
Due to the limited time in research and the source of the data set, there are limitations which may affect the prediction made on the future NT job market. Following factors are not being considered, such as:
From the 2018-28 Northern Territory Population Growth Strategy, NT invested 8.5 million to attract investment and create jobs, planning to invest $9.3 million to attract more migrants to the Territory. With these investments, the territory is expecting to see a population growth of 1.4% as a long-term average.
(Figure 9 - Population projection in NT, 2018-28 Northern Territory Population Growth Strategy)
It is worth noticing that the above prediction was made in 2016. From the census data of 2021, Snapshot of Northern Territory, released on 28/06/2022 by Australian Bureau of Statistics, the population of NT has grown from 22,900 (2016) to 23,300 (2021) with a growth rate of 1.7%. With the population growth trend, it is assumed that less skill shortages and smaller gaps between skill employees and the job shortages. However the increasing population was not taken into consideration in the research.
Limitation on Employment Opportunities Prediction
The NT Infrastructure Plan and Pipeline provides a number of upcoming projects and total planned investment by industry sectors in the future 5 years. However, in different industries, the amount of employment created by investment may differ. More accurate predictions can only be made on employment data, such as how many job opportunities can be created by the investment. This will be discussed further in the recommendation section.
Limitation on Employment Data on CDU Graduates
Charles Darwin University has an overall full-time employment rate of 81.4%. However, there is no direct data set that provides employment-related data in different fields of study, as well as their employability, such as how many graduates working in skilled employment as they studied and employer satisfaction rate in different industries. This will be discussed further in the recommendation section.
The lack of employment statistics of graduated students made it very difficult to know how successful CDU was in preparing its students to enter the job market. It was recommended that CDU could create a dataset every year tracking the percentage of graduates entering the job market of their respective fields. CDU could also collect data regarding most desired skill sets of different industry sectors by having close contact with alumni working in the industries.
It is also recommended that the government provide more details on employment data on future jobs and upcoming investment. Therefore, the universities could forecast the vacancies based on the annul infrastructure plan.
The research provide a general methodology for analysing and predicting shortages in future job markets in the NT. Additionally it proposed two matrices which visualized the measurement of workforce shortages with CDU enrollment status. The report also helped CDU career team to understand if any action in advance is required to meet the workforce demand. However, due to some limitations, such as the lack of a concrete dataset on the employment opportunity offered by investment and the CDU graduates' employment status data may impact the accuracy of the prediction results. Therefore, CDU may consider gathering more data from alumni to relect its educational quality and graduates employability.