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Business Services

Overview

This page provides high-level information and data on the Business Services industry which comprises four main industry sectors: 

  • Business Administration and Governance
  • Business Communication
  • Business Leadership and Management
  • Specialised Business Services.

For more information specific to these sectors, please visit the respective sector pages.

The Business Services industry is involved in the operation and management of businesses, including occupations from entry-level administrative and clerical staff to those involved in governance and corporate strategy at the highest level. As such it is not an independent industry; rather all Australian industries include workers in Business Services.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecast

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

As Business Services is a diffuse area, it is difficult to capture all employment in the industry. As such, employment levels in Other Administrative Services have been used as a proxy for wider Business Services employment in order to gain an insight into general trends in this industry.

Employment in the Other Administrative Services industry increased between 2000 and 2017, with particularly strong growth between 2006 and 2009, and in 2015–16. Employment levels decreased in 2017 from the preceding year; however, employment is projected to increase between 2017 and 2022. Growth is projected for most common VET related occupations in this industry, with the exception of Secretaries, where a fall of 24.9% is projected between 2017 and 2022. This is likely due to the advents of digital technology and automation, which threaten many entry-level roles in this industry (see Industry insights for more information).

Program enrolments in the Business Services Training Package remained relatively stable between 2014 and 2016, with a high in 2015 of around 461,800 and a recent fall in 2017 to around 360,800. Program completions have fallen over the same period. Subject-only enrolments rose between 2014 and 2016 to around 91,400, but fell to around 84,450 in 2017.

Industry insights on skills needs

Job vacancy data indicates that the top occupations in demand in the Other Administrative Services industry are:

  • Information Officers
  • Accounting Clerks
  • Accountants
  • Call or Contact Centre Workers
  • Receptionists.

According to the same vacancy data, the top generic skills in demand from employers in this industry are:

  • communication skills
  • writing
  • detail-oriented
  • Microsoft Excel
  • problem solving.

The Business Services Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2018 describes a number of key drivers for change:

  • Digital and technological change leading to changing job roles, which in turn has misaligned existing qualifications to these roles
  • A lack of flexibility and agility in existing training, contrary to industry demand
  • Growing demand for transferable skills rather than narrow specialisation
  • Need for more further learning pathways within the industry to enable adaptation to future job roles.

There are two trends the Skills Forecast focuses on. The first of these is the issue of digital change mentioned above. Though digital and technological innovation affects all industries, it is particularly relevant to the Business Services industry. Many jobs will be changed or replaced through automation, and technology is accelerating the globalisation industry. Workers must have the skills needed to take advantage of growing innovation and collaboration in this industry. Additionally, the pace of digital change means workers are expected to maintain a higher-level of digital literacy than in previous years, with more roles including elements of data analysis. It is therefore important that VET qualifications include this digital literacy as well as more specific technical skills.

The second trend discussed by the Skills Forecast are the new ways of working in this industry. Technology is increasing the use of remote teaming, meaning workers need collaboration and organisation skills. The changing structure of the economy and increasing casualisation mean more areas of this industry are becoming part of the ‘gig economy. This suggests workers need entrepreneurial skills to promote themselves and take advantage of opportunities. The Business Services workforce, like many others, is experiencing changing workforce demographics, with migration creating greater cultural diversity, and members of younger generations entering the workforce.

The Business Services Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2017 identified four key trends in the Business Services industry. These were:

  • Structural change in the Australian economy
  • Opportunities from growing Asian trade ties
  • Digital change
  • Automation of process-oriented roles and freelancing.

These trends mean workers in this industry will need the flexibility to move from industry to industry as the demand for Business Services in specific areas fluctuate. There is also an increasing expectation of higher-qualifications in this industry, so many workers may need to upskill if they wish to move to a new position. VET qualifications in this area may be useful for enabling existing workers to upskill as their roles become more focused on international Asian markets.

This trend towards digital skills was identified in 2015 by the Business Services Industry Environment Scan 2015, alongside the increasing need for workers to have data analysis skills. Although there are individuals in this industry with data analysis skills, the trend in the future will be for these skills to become core to many roles that are not specialised data-related positions. This report also highlights skills in communication and management as being important to the future of the Business Services industry.

In a speech to the Economic Society of Australia, Alexandra Heath, The Head of Economic Analysis at the Reserve Bank of Australia, placed the Business Services industry at the heart of the economic response to technological change. She indicated that this process has driven Business Services to become ‘more important, more specialised and more integrated [with other industries and areas of the market.]’ These changes are likely to have led to higher productivity growth, but more work is needed to understand how this might continue to affect the Business Services industry into the future.

An analysis of the professions most at risk of automation in A Smart Move by PwC shows that the Business Services industry contains many such professions. Occupations such as Accounting Clerk, Bookkeeper, Office Administration Worker or Secretary were among the jobs considered most at risk of automation, indicating that many entry-level positions in Business Services may be eliminated or drastically reduced in the future. This also drives the need for workers to upskill, and particularly to develop skills in creative or customer-service related areas where the risk of automation is relatively low.

The TAFE Enterprise Skills and Australian Business Report 2018 by TAFE NSW found from a survey of managers at over 400 Australian businesses that leadership and management training, as well as compliance or work health and safety related training, were areas of focus for upcoming training investments. These areas are covered by the Business Services industry and associated training package. These businesses generally identified effective trading as that which was ‘skills based, goal oriented, measurable, well-organised and relevant to the business’.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising

Australian Association of National Advertisers

Australian Association of Procurement and Contract Management

Australian Human Resources Institute

Australian Institute of Company Directors

Australian Institute of Office Professionals

Australian Institute of Project Management

Australian Institute of Training and Development

Australian Library and Information Association

Australian Market and Social Research Society

Australian Marketing Institute

Customer Service Institute of Australia

Governance Institute of Australia

Institute of Internal Auditors Australia

Institute of Managers and Leaders

Institute of Public Administration Australia

Interactive Advertising Bureau

Public Relations Institute of Australia

Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia

Safety Institute of Australia

Relevant research

A Smart Move – PwC

Business Services Industry Environment Scan 2015 – IBSA

Business Services Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2017 – PwC

Business Services Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2018 – PwC

Structural Change in Australian Industry: The Role of Business Services – Alexandra Heath (Head of Economic Analysis Department, Reserve Bank of Australia)

TAFE Enterprise Skills and Australian Business Report 2018 by TAFE NSW

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2017, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit 729 Other Administrative Services Industry, employment projections to May 2022.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 3 digit 729 Other Administrative Services Industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the BSB Business Services Training Package and all relevant superseded packages.

Priority skills data has been extracted from the Business Services Industry Reference Committee Skills Forecasts. Each IRC has prioritised and ranked the generic skills.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018, <https://www.burning-glass.com>.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • ANZSCO major groups excluding Sales Workers
    • 729 Other Administrative Services
  • Employers
    • 5412 Information Officers
    • 5511 Accounting Clerks
    • 2211 Accountants
    • 5411 Call or Contact Centre Workers
    • 5421 Receptionists
    • 729 Other Administrative Services.
Updated: 23 Oct 2018
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