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Education, riding the demographic wave to prosperity

Growth in private schooling and reskilling an ageing workforce


24 March 2014: Demographic shifts will help uncover new growth pockets in education, according to new research from professional services firm Deloitte, which identifies 25 sectoral hotspots with the biggest potential to lift Australia’s growth trajectory over the next 20 years.

The full release of Positioning for Prosperity? Catching the next wave, the third in Deloitte’s Building the Lucky Country series, analyses growth prospects across all major parts of Australia’s economy.  Collectively, these sectors, the ‘Deloitte Growth 25’ (DG25), represent a group of compelling growth opportunities for Australia.

Whether it is privately educating our growing number of secondary school students or reskilling an ageing workforce looking to extend and improve their earning potential, the education sector is well placed as one of the key economic growth engines that make up the DG25.

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Monish Paul, Deloitte Education leader comments:  “According to our latest analysis the Australian education sector will benefit significantly from both a boost in the number of school age children and the increased demand from older Australians looking to develop or refresh their skills to remain active participants in the workforce.”

Private schooling

Births have risen to around 310,000 per year, up from 250,000 a decade ago. This is pointing to around a 25 per cent rise in the number of Australian secondary school students in the 2020s. Thirty years ago one in every four students were educated in non-government schools, this ratio is now more than one in three.

Monish Paul, Deloitte Education leader, continued: “Education is already Australia’s number one service export worth around $17 billion annually.  The good news is this is set to continue, but the education sector will be further boosted by a growing demand for kindergarten to year 12 schooling. Given the underlying trend towards private (non-government) schooling in Australia, this is particularly positive for the private sector.”

“The growth isn’t just a product of increased domestic demand, Asian middle class parents have always placed a high value on western education for their children, but more of them now have the wealth necessary to access this. The private school sector provides a clear pathway to further education in Australia’s universities. If the private school sector can leverage this successfully, it could be poised to be one of the key growth engines for the Australian economy.”

Reskilling an ageing workforce

With growing numbers of older Australians extending their careers by choosing a different role or a new industry, opportunities will arise for education and training providers to assist with developing the new skills required to make the best use of this pool of experienced and productive workers.

“Some office workers already work well into their 60s and 70s, but that is less true of more manual workers such as tradespeople and soldiers,” said Paul. “Federal Government policy aims to substantially lift the share of the population with tertiary qualifications. That will directly add to opportunities for the education sector and also boost demand from older workers for training in new skills.

“At the same time, workers will need to stay abreast of increasingly rapid technological change, as digital technologies change not only the way we live, but also the way we work. However, there are some obstacles to overcome for this opportunity to really flower. We need to address the entrenched idea that education is primarily for people aged under 25 and tweak policies to ensure the support such as student loans are available to older people.”

Co-author of Positioning for Prosperity? Deloitte Access Economics’ Chris Richardson, said: “The DG25 reflects our analysis of those sectoral hotspots with the greatest potential to contribute to Australia’s prosperity.

“As Asia’s boom evolves and new domestic opportunities arise, our research shows that Australia’s growth options remain excellent. Our future prosperity will come from a more diversified spread of sectors, enabling Australia to remain the fastest-growing developed Western nation in the world in the coming decade.”

The initial findings from Deloitte’s Positioning for Prosperity report of 8 October 2013 saw great prospects in the ‘Fantastic Five’ sectors of gas, agribusiness, tourism, international education and wealth management, as well as Australia’s potential to extend its run of success in mining.  A companion media release considers the national impacts of the full DG25.  

NB: See our media releases and research at

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Monish Paul
Job Title:
Partner, Consulting
Mob: 0414 743 085; Tel: +61 (0) 8 9365 7294
Johnny Sollitt-Davis
Deloitte Australia
Job Title:
Corporate Affairs & Communications
Tel: +61 2 9322 7256, Mobile: 0431 134 850

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