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1345.4 - SA Stats, Dec 2010  
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FEATURE ARTICLE: WOMEN IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA'S WORKFORCE


INTRODUCTION

There is much consideration being given to the size and composition of the South Australian labour force. Findings from 'A review of Skills and Workforce Development in South Australia' commissioned by the Economic Development Board (EDB) suggest that South Australia is on the precipice of substantial economic growth thanks to major projects in areas such as mining and defence (Government of South Australia, 2008). Undertaking these projects will, however, increase the demand for skilled labour. With an ageing population and a birth rate less than replacement, questions are being asked about where the future South Australian labour force is going to come from.

Women have been identified as an underutilised resource in the labour market and therefore may have the potential to meet some of the demand (ABS 2009a). In addition to being underutilised, women are also under represented in senior management and executive positions. There are two specific targets in South Australia's Strategic Plan related to the retention and development of women in the workforce; T2.12 which focusses on improving work-life balance and T6.23 which focusses on women in executive positions in the public sector.

Using data from the suite of labour publications produced by the ABS, this article examines the size and composition of the South Australian labour force with a focus on the participation of employed females. The article also explores employment in the highest skill level occupations (as defined by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classifications of Occupations (ANZSCO)) with a particular focus on women holding executive positions in the South Australian public sector.


INCREASED PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN

Women are playing an increasingly important role in the workforce as the drive for economic growth increases the demand for more labour.

In June 1999 there were 374,200 males and 290,100 females (in trend terms) employed in South Australia accounting for 56.3% and 43.7% of those employed respectively. By June 2009 the numbers of males and females employed had increased to 423,100 and 373,600 respectively with females making up 46.9% of the workforce. For every extra male over this 10 year period, 1.7 females entered employment.

EMPLOYED PERSONS, Trend - South Australia
Graph: EMPLOYED PERSONS, Trend - South Australia


Most of the growth in female employment has been driven by women working in a part time capacity. In June 1999, full-time employment accounted for 52.2% of all female employment. By June 2009, this proportion had decreased to 49.7% of total female employment. There has also been an increase in the labour force participation rate of females during this period. From June 1999 to June 2009, the participation rate of females in the labour force increased from 51.3% to 57.8%.

FEMALES IN THE LABOUR FORCE, Trend - South Australia
Graph: FEMALES IN THE LABOUR FORCE, Trend - South Australia



ATTRACTION AND RETENTION OF WOMEN

According to the Government of South Australia, 'organisations must be competitive in providing leading edge conditions, flexibilities and career development opportunities if they are to attract and retain women. Whilst women's employment participation is increasing, women are significantly underutilised in the workforce and when in employment, don't enjoy the same career progression as men' (Government of South Australia, 2010).


HIGHEST SKILL LEVEL OCCUPATIONS

The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is used by the ABS to classify occupation data. It is a skill-based classification used to classify all occupations and jobs in the Australian and New Zealand labour markets. The skill level is defined as a function of the range and complexity of the set of tasks performed in a particular occupation. Occupations at the highest skill level 1 have a level of skill commensurate with a bachelor degree or higher qualification. At least five years of relevant experience may substitute for the formal qualification. In some instances relevant experience and/or on-the-job training may be required in addition to the formal qualification.

Just over a decade ago in 1999, women held 38.8% of South Australia's highest skill level occupations, however, since this time they have made further inroads in this predominantly male arena. The highest proportion of women in skill level 1 occupations in South Australia was recorded in 2008, reaching 45.2% and to a level very close to the proportion of women in the labour force, before dropping back to 43.4% in 2009. This fall of 1.8 percentage points slid South Australia below the national average (45.4%) for the first time in three years, and to a level similar to that recorded in 2004 and 2005.

FEMALES AS PROPORTION OF ALL PERSONS IN HIGHEST SKILL LEVEL OCCUPATIONS (a), Original - South Australia
Graph: FEMALES AS PROPORTION OF ALL PERSONS IN HIGHEST SKILL LEVEL OCCUPATIONS (a), Original - South Australia


Yearly changes in the numbers of men and women employed in occupations at skill level 1 show considerable variability. Women experienced annual increases across all years from 2000 to 2009 within this skill level, from an increase of approximately 1,200 women in 2003 and 2009 to approximately 7,000 women in 2006. In comparison, men experienced two annual losses in 2000 (approximately 2,700 men) and 2003 (approximately 600 men), while the largest increase was recorded in 2009, increasing by 11,000 men. Cumulatively over the decade, women employed in the highest skill category experienced an increase of approximately 33,800 compared to 25,500 for men. This represents an increase of over 50% for women at skill level 1 and approximately 25% for men for the same period.

YEARLY CHANGES IN PERSONS EMPLOYED IN HIGHEST SKILL OCCUPATIONS (a), Original - South Australia
Graph: YEARLY CHANGES IN PERSONS EMPLOYED IN HIGHEST SKILL OCCUPATIONS (a), Original - South Australia



SOUTH AUSTRALIA'S PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYMENT

The South Australian Public Sector Workforce Information Summary Report, produced by the Government of South Australia Commissioner for Public Sector Employment, provides a wealth of information about the structure, size and composition of the SA Public Sector Workforce.

The public sector is defined as the 'state' level of government classification within the Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA), and includes all state or territory controlled departments, statutory bodies and subsidiaries.This excludes all commonwealth and local government employment, including public universities which are now considered multi-jurisdictional and excluded from national and state level public sector statistics.

In 2009, the South Australian public sector employed over 100,000 people and accounted for 12.6% of South Australia's total employed. Of those employed in the South Australian public sector, almost two thirds (65.7%) are women (Government of South Australia, 2009).


OCCUPATION AND SKILL LEVEL

In 2009, there were around 49,700 persons employed in occupations approximating skill level 1 in the South Australian public sector, accounting for nearly half (49.4%) of the state's public sector employment. Females accounted for over two thirds (67.0%) of these positions. This gender disparity is largely a result of some of the most popular occupations for women falling within the category of 'professionals', including nurses (registered) and teachers.

From 2006 to 2009, the number of occupations approximating skill level 1 within South Australia's public sector increased by around 7,700 (18.3%). Of those, about 4,900 (63.6%) were filled by females. However, the rate of growth for females employed at this level in the South Australian public sector (17.3%) was slightly behind the rate of growth for males employed at the same level (20.6%).

Public Sector Employment - South Australia

Skill Level
Males
Females
Total
Occupation
2006
2009
% chg
2006
2009
% chg
2006
2009
% chg

Managers and Administrators
1
1 900
2 800
47.4
1 500
2 400
60.0
3 400
5 200
52.9
Professionals
1
11 700
13 600
16.2
26 900
30 900
15
38 600
44 500
15.3
Associate Professionals
2
7 300
8 300
13.7
8 500
9 600
12.9
15 800
17 900
13.3
Tradesperson and Related Workers
3
900
1 500
66.7
40
100
150.0
940
1 600
70.2
Advanced Clerical and Service Workers
3
500
500
-
1 500
1 800
20.0
2 000
2 300
15.0
Intermediate Clerical, Sales & Service Workers
4
3 700
4 700
27.0
15 800
18 000
13.9
19 500
22 700
16.4
Intermediate Production & Transport Workers
4
100
700
600.0
100
100
-
200
800
300.0
Elementary Clerical, Sales & Service Workers
5
200
400
100.0
200
500
150.0
400
900
125.0
Labourers & Related Workers
5
1 500
2 000
33.3
2 000
2 400
20.0
3 500
4 400
25.7
South Australia Public Sector (a)
Total
32 600
34 500
5.8
60 200
66 100
9.8
92 800
100 600
8.4
South Australia Public Sector
1
13 600
16 400
20.6
28 400
33 300
17.2
42 000
49 700
18.3
South Australia All Sectors (b)
1
110 900
126 700
14.2
90 000
97 300
8.1
200 900
224 000
11.5

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) Includes other and not stated occupations
(b) Seasonally adjusted annual averages
Source: Workforce Information Summary Report, 2009, Labour Force, Australia, May 2010 (cat. no. 6202.0)


Note: Information in the South Australian Public Sector Workforce Information Summary Report is based on the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) and therefore, while reference to skill level 1 closely approximates ANZSCO skill level 1, it is not directly comparable.


LEVEL OF RESPONSIBILITY

Based on 2009 salary levels which approximate the classification structure of the Public Services Management (PSM) Act, and which are indicative of responsibility levels, there is an over-representation of women at the three lower salary ranges (and responsibility levels). Of around 66,100 females employed in the public sector in 2009, approximately 24,600 (or 37.2%) earned less than $47,999. In comparison, around 8,800 males (or 25.6%) were in this salary range.

In the salary range of $78,200 - $98,499 which incorporates the group who feed into executive appointments, women slightly outnumber men (approximately 4,900 females compared to 4,700 males). In the executive salary range of $98,500 and above, however, there were nearly twice as many males as females (approximately 2,800 males compared to 1,500 females).

NUMBER OF SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYEES, by Salary - 2009
Graph: NUMBER OF SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYEES, by Salary - 2009


Note: This salary measure is intended to capture an indication of responsibility level only and should not be used to reflect total salary earnings. For this reason, all part-time employees' salaries are reported as the amount they would receive if they worked full-time.

In the four years from 2006 to 2009, there has been a gradual increase in the proportion of women in the higher salary brackets. For example, of all the employees in salary bracket 4 (indicative of the executive feeder group), the proportion of women increased from 47% in 2007 to 51.2% in 2009. Similarly, there has been a slight increase in the proportion of women in the highest salary bracket, increasing from 33.2% in 2006 to 34.6% in 2009.

There was little change in the percentage of women who made up the lowest salary bracket between 2006 and 2009.

PROPRTION OF WOMEN IN SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC SECTOR, by Salary
Graph: PROPRTION OF WOMEN IN SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC SECTOR, by Salary


Note: This salary measure is intended to capture an indication of responsibility level only and should not be used to reflect total salary earnings. For this reason, all part-time employees' salaries are reported as the amount they would receive if they worked full-time.


EXECUTIVE LEVEL APPOINTMENTS

The proportion of female executives within the South Australian public sector has increased over the previous decade from 20.4% in 1999 to 38.7% in 2009. The South Australian Government's target is for women to comprise 50% of executives by 2014.

PROPORTION OF FEMALE EXECUTIVES IN PUBLIC SECTOR, South Australia
Graph: PROPORTION OF FEMALE EXECUTIVES IN PUBLIC SECTOR, South Australia



CONCLUSION

Over the period from June 1999 to June 2009, the number of women in the South Australian workforce increased to 373,600 to represent 46.9% of the workforce, an increase of 3.2 percentage points over the period under review.

South Australia's highest skilled workforce has experienced growth over the decade to 2009, with the proportion of women in this occupational category also increasing over the same period. While the state's public sector accounts for 12.6% of South Australia's total employed, it contributes 22.2% of all skill level 1 occupations of which over two thirds (66.9%) are occupied by females. This is largely due to some of the most popular occupations for women falling within the skill level 1 category such as nursing and teaching.

The proportion of female executives within South Australia's public sector has increased 18.3 percentage points in the decade to 2009 and currently accounts for 38.7% of all executive level appointments. The South Australian Government's target is for women to comprise 50% of executives by 2014.


REFERENCES

ABS 2009a, Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6220.0)

ABS 2009, Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6202.0)

ABS 2009, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (Cat. no. 6291.0.55.003)

ABS 2002, Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA) (Cat. no. 1218.0)

Government of South Australia, 2008, Economic Development Board, Review of Skills and Workforce Development in South Australia

Government of South Australia, 2009, Commissioner for Public Sector Employment, Workforce Information Summary Report

Government of South Australia, 2010, Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology, Building Blocks for Engaging, Retaining and Developing Women in a Competitive Labour Market, http://www.workforceinfoservice.sa.gov.au/womenandwork, viewed 30 November 2010

Government of South Australia, South Australia's Strategic Plan, 2007


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