Scenarios for Australia to 2025



Australia needs to position itself in a world where work is rapidly changing. ICT, globalisation, the Asian century and new patterns of work are impacting on all of us and the speed of change is making it hard to predict and plan for the future.

To deal with this uncertainty and the limitations of making projections about the future in developing the Future focus, 2013 National Workforce Development Strategy,  AWPA developed four possible, plausible scenarios for Australia to 2025. Scenarios are alternative visions of the potential future, and provide a means to make decisions that take account of uncertainty.

In the Long Boom scenario, the high demand for resources traded with China and other countries continues. Industries challenged by the high terms of trade undertake structural adjustment.

In Smart Recovery, the challenges facing Europe and the United States affect financial markets. This means low growth for Australia to 2014–15. Growth then improves and Australia benefits from industry and government strategies to implement a knowledge economy.

In Terms of Trade Shock, resource prices fall mainly due to increased supply from other countries, the Australian dollar falls and we move to a broader-based economy.

Ring of Fire is a risky world with multiple economic and environmental shocks. 

The scenario approach allows for alternative futures to be factored into economic modelling. The scenarios assist with: 

  • analysing and understanding emerging complexities;
  • exploring areas of uncertainty;
  • assessing interdependence and coherence; and
  • assessing ‘what if’ events.

In developing these scenarios a key question was: What are the key drivers of demand and supply for skills in the Australian labour market to 2025? The drivers identified are:

  • social, demographic and cultural trends
  • economic and financial trends and globalisation
  • labour force, industrial and workplace trends
  • science, technology and innovation
  • governance and public policy
  • sustainability (focus on water, energy, population)

Despite the unknowns, all four scenarios threw up common elements which will impact on our future workforce: our ageing population, globalisation, the importance of Asia, the increasing take up of technology and an urgent need for Australia to grow our stock of qualified workers.

To support this work, a range of activities were undertaken during 2011 including:

  1. A joint forum with the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia was held on 7 February 2011. The forum included papers from six experts each addressing one of the drivers identified above. The papers and presentations are available. Following this form, a summary report was published titled Critical Issues Facing Australia to 2025 Summary of a Scenario Development Forum.
  2. Expert interviews with 24 experts were conducted during 2011 to inform the development of the scenarios.
  3. Stakeholder workshops in Sydney and Melbourne in September 2011 to test the emerging scenarios
  4. A webinar to provide information about the scenarios and the opportunity for questions and comments. The webinar recording is available on our YouTube channel.
  5. A discussion paper was released in July 2012 followed by a period of consultation and a submissions process to inform the 2013 strategy.

Download documents

Scenarios for Australia to 2025 (July 2012)



Summaries: Scenarios for Australia to 2025 (July 2012)



Critical Issues Facing Australia to 2025 Summary of a Scenario Development Forum (2011) 


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