Latest Census data: How Australians learn, work & commute

Monday, October 23, 2017

Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics has released their second round of data gathered in the 2016 Census. This data reveals a fascinating snapshot of how we work and are educated, with the number of Australians with a university degree up 6% in a decade, a higher proportion of Australians driving to work, and more of us working in part-time employment.

A more educated Australia

More than one in two Australians have undertaken further study since leaving school. The latest results show that 56% of Australians over the age of 15 (9.6 million people) currently hold a post-school qualification.

We are also more likely to have participated in higher education with close to one in four adult Australians now holding a Bachelor Degree or above (24%), up 6% from a decade ago. The rise in postgraduate learning has been even more marked, with an additional 300,000 Australians holding a postgraduate degree since 2011, an increase of 46%. Residents of Australia’s capital cities are almost twice as likely as those in regional areas to have a university qualification (30% compared to 16%). Australians with vocational qualifications (certificates III & IV) have seen increases (13%) at around half the rate of university degrees (23%)

The three most common qualifications, by field of study, are Management and Commerce, Engineering and Society and Culture. The popularity of Society and Culture (which includes areas such as politics, law and economics) has risen by 29% since 2011.

The highest growth has been in the traditional areas of study: Accounting (+64,189), General Nursing (+64,022) and Business management (+61,462). Aged care is growing too, now ranked as the fourth highest growth category increasing from 60,702 in 2011 to 97,024 today.

The gender gap

Over the last 50 years, women have massively increased their labour force participation while men have decreased theirs. In 1966 83% of men were employed compared to 34% of women. The latest Census results show that 65% of men are currently employed compared to 56% of women. Labour force participation for women peaks in the post-child rearing years among women aged between 45-49, with 76% employed in this age group. For men, participation peaks in the mid to late 30’s as does hours worked, averaging 42 hours per week until the late 50’s.

Women have been closing the post-school qualification gap with 54% of women compared to 58% of men holding a qualification. In 2006, 51% of males held a post-school education compared to 42% of women – a gap of 9%. Ten years later, this gap has narrowed to just 4%.

While women have increased their paid work participation and hours, men have not closed the gap in unpaid domestic work. Employed men were almost twice as likely to do less than 5 hours of unpaid domestic work per week (60%) as women (36%) and working women were more than three times as likely to be doing at least 15 hours of domestic work per week as men (27% compared to 8%).

One in five working males are tradies

More than one in five (22%) working males are tradesman or technicians with the three most popular male-dominated occupations being electricians, carpenters/joiners and truck drivers. For women, the top occupations are registered nurses, general clerks and receptionists.

The Census also revealed that the most popular occupation for both men and women is a general sales assistant although retail trade and wholesale trade are two of just three sectors that employ fewer workers today than in 2011. The biggest fall in employment by industry is manufacturing, which has seen the loss of 219,141 workers in 5 years.

Part-time employment and the gig economy

Over the past five years the Australian labour force population has grown by over 800,000 people, rising from 10,658,465 in 2011 to 11,471,298 in 2016. The gig economy is on the rise, with the number of Australians employed part-time having risen by 14% since 2011. The number of full-time workers, by comparison, has only risen by 4%. Today, one in three working Australians are employed part-time (up 3% since 2011). 25 years ago, just one in ten workers were employed part-time.

Australian’s working hard but trying to get a balance

Australians are most likely to work between 35-40 hours per week, with two in five (40%) working these hours. The Census revealed that some Australians may be developing a better work-life balance, with the percentage of Australians working more than 40 hours a week dropping from 29% in 2011, to 26% in 2016. Over the same period, the proportion of workers employed less than 25 hours per week increased slightly from 22% to 23%.

Getting to work

The proportion of workers driving to work has increased by 0.5% since 2011. Nearly seven in ten Australians (69%) drive themselves to work while an additional 5% ride along as passengers. Today an additional 466,885 are commuting by car compared to five year ago.

The goal of ‘walkable cities’ and ‘active transport’ needs further focus as the percentage of people walking to work declining from 4.2% in 2011 to 3.9% currently, and those using a bicycle to get to work also declined slightly from 1.2% to 1.1%.

Adelaide residents are the most likely to travel to work by car, with four in five (80%) travelling to work by car. Meanwhile, Hobart takes the prize for the most accessible city with 8% of workers walking their commute. Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, leads travel by public transport with nearly double the proportion of commuters travelling by train, bus, tram or ferry than any other capital city (Sydney 21%, Melbourne 13%, Brisbane 11%, Adelaide 8%, Perth 8%, Hobart 5%, Darwin 7% and Canberra 7%).

Media Commentary

For media commentary please contact Kimberley Linco on 02 8824 3422 or

The Fastest Growing Suburb in NSW

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Willowdale in Sydney’s south-west is a suburb that has emerged from rural acreages in just a few years. It sits in the Cobbitty-Leppington area which is the fastest growing region in NSW, Australia’s largest state.

In 10 years, the population of Cobbitty-Leppington has tripled, from 6,000 to around 18,000 currently. Yet it sits in the south-west growth corridor which comprises three of the 10 largest growth areas in NSW. These large growth areas include Elderslie-Harrington park, Mount Annan-Currant Hill and Cobbitty-Leppington, and together they have grown by almost 30,000 people in the last decade.

One of the reasons for the population growth of these areas is the more affordable new housing on offer.

The median house price in this new suburb is around $650,000 compared to the Sydney median house price of almost $1.3 million.

“The Aussie Dream is still alive in Sydney. People can afford not only a house with a back yard in a new community, but one at half the median Sydney house price” - Mark McCrindle

About Mark McCrindle

Mark McCrindle is an award-winning social researcher, best-selling author, TedX speaker and influential thought leader, and is regularly commissioned to deliver strategy and advice to the boards and executive committees of some of Australia’s leading organisations. Download Mark's full speakers pack here.

Food Insecurity in Australia

Monday, October 16, 2017

It was a pleasure teaming up with Foodbank Australia, to conduct new research into the hidden problem of food insecurity in Australia.

What is food insecurity?

Food insecurity can be defined as “a situation that exists when people lack secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life” - Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

Despite our reputation as the “lucky country”, the issue of hunger exists in Australia but is largely unnoticed

The reality is that 3.6 million Australians (15%) have experienced food insecurity at least once in the last 12 months. Three in five of these individuals experience food insecurity at least once a month.

Food insecurity impacts a wide range of groups in the community, and is not restricted to the unemployed or homeless. In fact, almost half of food insecure Australians (48%) are employed in some way, whether full-time, part-time or casually.

Our youngest members of the community are also impacted, as dependent children live in 40% of food insecure households.

The study shows how easy it is for someone to fall into food insecurity, given the rising cost of living

Financial pressures can create difficult choices, such as choosing between heating and eating. Two in five food insecure Australians (41%) have not paid bills in order to have enough money to buy food.

The experience of food insecurity is incredibly challenging and can cause a significant decline in quality of life for individuals and families. Skipping meals in these instances is quite common, and 28% of food insecure Australians report going for an entire day without eating in times where they have run out of food.

Download the full report here

Download the full infographic here

Australian attitudes towards coffee

Thursday, October 12, 2017

We were delighted to partner with Jura Australia to conduct new research to better understand Australian perspectives, attitudes and behaviours towards coffee.

Coffee is crucial for the survival of more than one in four Australians.

The love of coffee is strong in Australia, with more than one in four (27%) indicating they cannot survive the day without it, and 9 in 10 (88%) stating they like it to some extent.

Australia’s younger generations have a greater dependency on coffee, with around a third needing it to survive the day (33% Gen Y and 30% Gen X). By comparison the Builders generation are the most likely to see coffee as something nice to have but don't need it (45%).

We also don’t mind paying for what we love, with more than four in five Australians (84%) spending money on coffee in an average week.

Three quarters of Australians have at least one cup a day.

Three in four Australians (75%) enjoy at least one cup of coffee per day, and of those, 28% have three or more cups per day! Those who prefer instant coffee are the most likely to have three or more cups per day.

Instant Vs espresso, who wins?

Australian coffee drinkers are evenly divided between those who prefer instant coffee (39%) and espresso coffee (39%).

Older generations are likely to prefer instant coffee, whilst a preference for espresso coffee is higher among Australia’s younger generations. The Builders generation are the exception, with two in five (42%) preferring espresso coffee.

Coffee is most enjoyed at home.

The majority of Australians who drink coffee will make a coffee at home on a usual weekday (86%). However, when it comes to purchasing a coffee from a café, younger generations are more likely to do so than their older counterparts (61% Gen Z, 53% Gen Y cf. 36% Gen X, 33% Baby Boomers, 26% Builders).

Coffee drinkers who prefer espresso coffee are the most likely to purchase their coffee from a cafe (60% cf. 36% coffee pods, 22% instant coffee). More than three quarters of those who prefer espresso coffee (77%), however, will make a coffee at home on an average weekday.

Research Methodology

This research is a collation of data gained through an online national representation survey of 1,000 Australians over the age of 18 across the different generations, genders and states in Australia.

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P: +61 2 8824 3422


Attracting and retaining Millennials in the workplace

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

If you ask any HR department, attracting and retaining talent is not an easy task - especially when it comes to Gen Y - or the Millennials - as they are often known. Millennials are in their mid-20s and 30s and by 2020 they'll comprise more than a third of the workforce. Our Team Leader of Communications Ashley Fell spoke to Jon Dee on Sky News about how to get the best out of Millennials as employees.

What are some of the key differences between Millennials and the generations that went before them when it comes to careers and the workplace?

Millennials have spent longer in education than previous generations. More than 1 in 3 have a university degree compared to 1 in 5 Baby Boomers. With this comes greater expectations around career trajectory and opportunity. While the Baby Boomers were shaped in an era of greater job security and career stability, today’s emerging workforce have seen sectors like manufacturing decline and new jobs like App Developer, Cyber Security and Social Media Marketer become mainstream.

The rise of the gig economy where people may hold down multiple roles or are more freelancer, contractor and contingent worker than employee means that we have moved away from job for life, and career for life. The national average job tenure is three years per employer, which means that school leavers today will have 17 separate jobs across an estimated 5 careers. While Boomers developed their career by showing loyalty within an organisation and climbing the rank, Millennials are shaped in a work culture where careers are developed by moving across organisations, grabbing opportunities and gaining experience across organisations and industries.

When it comes to the workforce, what are Millennials looking for in their place of employment?

Millennials are looking for Culture, Purpose and Impact.

Culture refers to the workplace community, the way the staff interact, the values that they hold. It’s the ‘who’ of the organisation, the people, and how they do what they do. Culture is important to Millennials because the workplace is one of the main social crossroads through which todays Millennials now pass. They are looking for social interaction, professional collegiality and connection at work.

Purpose refers to the ‘why’ of an organisation. It’s the big picture of what the organisation is about, their reason for existence, their vision. Millennials are more likely to consider the ‘higher-order drivers’ (such as the triple bottom line, volunteer days, organisational values, corporate giving programs, further study, training and personal development) as important when looking for a job.

Impact refers to the contribution team members can make to achieve this vision. It’s no longer just enough to provide a fair days pay for a fair day’s work, this generation want to know that their own contribution is having an impact and making a difference.

What advice would you give to employers who steer clear of younger workers?

Every generation of young people throughout history has copped a bit of bad press from the older generations, and that’s not always without reason. Each generation has strengths, which we should connect with, and weaknesses which we need to keep an eye on.

But the fact is, Australia has an ageing population and with this an ageing workforce. It is just a basic factor of future proofing and forward planning for leaders to start to think about attracting the next layer of talent, leadership succession planning and staff development.

It’s important to remember that Millennials bring the latest education, an innate connection with technology and can connect with their cohort better than any other generation. Diversity – whether that be gender, cultural or generational diversity enhances our workplaces. An organisation gains strength when it not only resembles the society in which it operates but when it brings the different voices into the organisation as well.


Ashley Fell is a social researcher, TEDx speaker and Head of Communications at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a trends analyst and media commentator she understands how to effectively communicate across diverse audiences. From her experience in managing media relations, social media platforms and content creation, Ashley advises on how to achieve cut through in message-saturated times. She is an expert in how to communicate across generational barriers.

Download Ashley's Speaker Pack here, and view her speakers reel below. 

Australian Community Trends Report

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The sector that most directly and deliberately improves and supports Australian communities is the not-for-profit sector. 

Charities are in many ways the heart of Australia. Their value to this nation is demonstrated by the almost $135 billion given in the last year, most of it by the community rather than government.

The esteem of this sector is demonstrated by the size of the charity workforce, which employs one in every ten Australian workers. This is second in size only to retail. In addition to the 1.2 million Australians employed by not-for-profits are the 3.6 million volunteers, all of which makes charities by far Australia’s largest labour force.

While one in five Australian adults has volunteered for a community organisation in the last year, four in five adults have given financially to such organisations, of these one in four give at least monthly.

The landscape for charities is rapidly changing, with generation change, demographic shifts and technological transformation. For the average charity, half of their supporters have joined them since this decade began – and over the same period of time, the nation has grown by almost three million people.


The purpose of this annual Australian Communities Report is to equip leaders in the sector to respond with relevance to the changing external environment and the emerging trends. This 2017 study builds on the results from the 2016 and 2015 research and offers insights to help Australia’s not-for-profit leaders continue to create ripples of change that over time will build the capacity of communities locally, nationally and indeed globally.

Click here to download your free copy. 


About McCrindle 

At McCrindle we are engaged by some of the leading brands and most effective organisations across Australia and internationally to help them understand the ever-changing external environment in which they operate and to assist them in identifying and responding to the key trends.

Our expertise is analysing findings and effectively communicating insights and strategies. Our skills are in designing and deploying world class social and market research. Our purpose is advising organisations to respond strategically to the trends and so remain ever-relevant in changing times. As social researchers we help organisations, brands and communities know the times.

Feel free to Contact us to find out more about our research services.

Are the rich getting richer?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Australia has long been considered the land of the fair go. It is a nation regarded as a classless society where the suburbs were the social equalisers- a melting pot of lawyers and labourers, teachers and tradies.

The ‘great Australian dream’ where people on average incomes near the start of their working life could afford a home is fading and the latest data reveals a widening wealth gap.

What are the drivers of this wealth stratification?

Property prices and ownership

The latest HILDA data from the University of Melbourne showed that two decades ago, one in three young people aged 18 - 39 owned a property, compared to today, where just one in four young people own a property.

The impact of growing demand on house prices is most evident when comparing prices to average earnings. Twenty years ago, the average Sydney house was 5.6 times average annual earnings while in Melbourne it was an affordable 3.4 times annual earnings.

Today, Sydney homes are more than 14 times average earnings, and in Melbourne more than 11 times annual earnings.

Generational challenge

The generational financial inequities are even more pronounced when analysing net wealth by generational cohort.

While Gen Y have a household net worth of $268,800, it is less than half that of the Gen Xers who are just a decade older. The highest net worth generation in Australia are the Boomers aged 55-64 who not only have a net wealth almost 5 times that of the generation of their children (Gen Y) but they still have a decade or more of earnings and wealth accumulating ahead of them.

How can we level the playing field?

Policy has partly created the rising house prices through migration settings and therefore population growth. Policy settings have also created the SMSF demand for property and tax settings such as negative gearing have been a boon for property investment. Therefore policy could also assist in bringing a solution such as assisting in intergenerational wealth transfer or allowing superannuation fund access for first-home buyers. For a generation finding it harder to get a foothold in property, further research into possible policy adjustments is a worthwhile approach.

About Mark McCrindle

Mark McCrindle is an award-winning social researcher, best-selling author, TedX speaker and influential thought leader, and is regularly commissioned to deliver strategy and advice to the boards and executive committees of some of Australia’s leading organisations. Download Mark's full speakers pack here.

2017 Australian Communities Forum Recap

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Last Friday, McCrindle and AlphaSys were proud to present the Australian Communities Forum (ACF) at Customs House in Sydney. The ACF featured 14 brilliant speakers and 4 jam-packed sessions. We began the day with tea and coffee on arrival before kicking off our first session, which focused on the research results from the Australian Communities Trends Report into Australia's not-for-profit sector. Before we launched into the findings we received a warm welcome from Councillor Jess Miller on behalf of our event sponsor, the City of Sydney.


Eliane Miles opened Session 1 with a snapshot of the key factors influencing Australian communities and some surprising findings from the just-completed Australian Communities Report. Eliane provided an overview of giving in Australia, indicating that 4 in 5 Australians give financially to charities / not-for-profits, the top 8 causes Australians are supporting and the 5 charity essentials.

Mark McCrindle continued the theme of presenting results by exploring some of the key insights from the 2016 Census results. Australia’s population is growing, ageing and changing. Mark also explored how not-for-profit organisations can respond to our changing nation.

Each of our delegates also received a copy of The Australian Communities Trends Infographic which contains the top line findings from the national study into Australian giving and how charities can engage.


After a networking break over morning tea Lalita Stables, head of strategic business at Google shared an engaging keynote presentation on strategy essentials that can be applied in local communities. Lalita spoke to leadership in an organisation, how Google have both a culture of innovation and information, and encouraged organisations to have a mission, transparency and a voice.

Our next keynote, Justin Yoon – founder and director at AlphaSys who was our event partner this year, delivered an engaging keynote address on how when building authentic communities, technology isn’t always the answer. Justin encouraged us to get ‘SLOSH-ed’ – or in other words, to ensure organisations Strategise, Listen, Orchestrate, Start simple and value Human experience.

Our final keynote was delivered by Jonnie Farrell, founder of start-up Adventure Squad and previously a product designer at Airtasker. Jonnie inspired and challenged us to think like a start-up and to trust our instincts, work hard and have a pure intent. From his experience in start-ups and entrepreneurism, Jonnie encouraged delegates to build, measure and learn.



In this stream, Richenda Vermeulen, CEO at ntegirty, began the session by challenging our audience with research-based insights on the four keys to achieving digital success. Ben Littlejohn from Act for Peace then spoke about promoting a start-up campaign using social and mainstream media, from Act for Peace’s Ration Challenge. Our final speaker for tis stream, Andrew Hill who is the community and fundraising director at The Salvation Army, shared how The Red Shield Appeal recently incorporated electronic giving into its appeal.


Graham Catt, CEO of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) began our second stream on community trends by sharing how the AVA uses environmental scanning to identify the trends taking place in the external environment and how to respond to them. Tony Holland, the CEO of OzHelp, then shared the inspiring story of how OzHelp’s tune-up program is reaching people where they live and work. Josh Crowther then concluded our second stream by sharing valuable insights from research conducted by Dunham+Company into donor trends and Australians giving behaviours.


Following afternoon tea and some great networking, we gathered back together to hear from our last two speakers, Andy Meier from Strategic Minds Communication and Sam RefShauge from batyr.

Andy Meier, director of Strategic Minds Communications kicked off our afternoon session by giving us some key insights into the power of video storytelling. Andy shared how a good story has a narrative, and that stories inspire us towards action.

Our last speaker of the day was Sam Refshauge, the CEO and executive director at batyr. Sam shared the inspiring story of how batyr came to be, and how to engage and communicate with Generation Z, we need to be innovative, create communities, encourage and empower, and utulise peer-to-peer interaction for this emerging generation.


We would like to thank all of our speakers and delegates for making the 2017 Australian Communities Forum a fantastic event. A big thank you to our primary sponsors Database Consultants Australia and the City of Sydney for your support in making this happen.

Australian Communities Report

Friday, September 08, 2017

The sector that most directly and deliberately improves and supports Australian communities is the not-for profit sector. Charities are in many ways the heart of Australia and their value to this nation is demonstrated by the almost $135 billion given in the last year, most of it by the community rather than government. The esteem of this sector is demonstrated by the size of the charity workforce, which employs 1 in every 10 Australian workers, and is second in size only to retail. In addition to the 1.2 million Australians employed by not-for-profits are the 3.6 million volunteers, all of which makes charities by far Australia’s largest labour force.

While 1 in 5 Australian adults has volunteered for a community organisation in the last year, 4 in 5 adults have given financially to such organisations, with 1 in 4 giving at least monthly.

With generation change, demographic shifts and technological transformation, the landscape for charities is rapidly changing. For the average charity, half of their supporters have joined them since this decade began- and over the same period of time, the nation has grown by almost 3 million people.

The purpose of this annual Australian Communities Report is to equip leaders in the sector to respond with relevance to the changing external environment and the emerging trends. This 2017 study builds on the results from the 2016 and 2015 research and offers insights to help Australia’s not-for-profit leaders continue to create ripples of change that over time will build the capacity of communities locally, nationally and indeed globally.

View the full infographic here. 

Why 30-somethings are leaving mainstream work

Monday, September 04, 2017

Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 1994, are changing careers more than previous generations. They are post-linear in their job outlook, and will work across multiple jobs and sectors throughout their career.

They are an entrepreneurial generation, largely because they have the technology enablement to start businesses or to find new roles. They are able to plug back into education more regularly to upskill or retrain.

The flexibility of this life stage enables Generation Y to try new endeavours. They have a little more financial backing during this particular life stage, and they don’t have the same commitments as they move into their thirties as their parents did at the same age, like children and mortgages. This has enabled them to be more career mobile than their parents were at the same age.

The downside of heading out from a stable job to try something new is that it might not work out financially. The challenge of not having a mortgage to pay is that it can leave the thirty-somethings, perhaps when they are in their forties, further behind financially than where their parents were at the same age.

And so while it’s not as exciting to join the career ladder and climb the rungs, it does provide the benefit of long term earnings. Locking into the mortgage does have the asset-appreciation benefit, and therefore a retirement vehicle that we know is important as Australians move into the later years of their life. 

You can find out more about Mark McCrindle here, or to have him present at your next event, please get in touch

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