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Business Services


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.

Nationally recognised training for Business Administration and Governance is delivered under the BSB – Business Services Training Package.

Information sourced from the Business Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

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 2019, with particularly strong growth between 2006 and 2009, and between 2013 and 2016. Employment levels decreased in 2017 from the preceding year before rising in 2019 to approximately 75,300. The industry is projected to continue this growth to2024, to a high of around 80,900.

Growth is projected for most common VET-related occupations in this industry, with the exception of Secretaries, where falls of around 30% are projected between 2019 and 2024. This is likely due to the advents of digital technology and automation, which threaten many roles in this industry (see Industry insights for more information). Strong growth (16%) is projected for Conference and Event Organisers.

Program enrolments in the Business Services Training Package have fallen from a high of around 456,730 in 2015 to around 343,000 in 2018. Program completions have fallen over the same period. Subject-only enrolments rose between 2015 and 2016 to around 91,400 but fell to around 84,450 in 2017. In 2018 subject-only enrolments have increased to more than 101,500.

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Business Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast the top priority skills required for the Business Services industry are:

  • Digital competency
  • Business competence
  • Social competence
  • Critical thinking, problem solving and strong interpersonal skills
  • Data literacy
  • Technical skills.

The following are also identified as the top generic skills for the Business Services industry:

  • Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self management (adaptability)
  • Design mindset / Thinking critically / System thinking / Solving problems
  • Communication / Virtual collaboration / Social intelligence
  • Managerial / Leadership
  • Data analysis
  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN), Foundation Skills).

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

  • Information Officers
  • Call or Contact Centre Workers
  • Receptionists
  • Advertising, Public Relations and Sales Managers
  • Other Specialist Managers.

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

  • Communication skills
  • Detail oriented
  • Problem solving
  • Building effective relationships
  • Time management.

The Business Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies the following key drivers for change:

  • Technological change including the automation of job tasks and technologies facilitating globalisation and offshoring
  • New ways of working, including virtual teaming allowing collaboration across geographic locations, the gig economy and digital freelancing platforms, and increasing team diversity
  • Increasing agility across industries, meaning workers are not limited to opportunities only within a single industry.

The Business Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast discusses the impact of new technology on the Business Services industry. For the Business Services industry, it is predicted that up to 87% of job tasks for some occupations could be automated, however these occupations have not yet been significantly impacted by automation. Skills which complement automation technology are identified as a need for the future. Technology is also allowing for better collaboration between workers of different geographic locations, contributing to globalisation and an increasing level of diversity amongst team members.

Also discussed are changes in the varieties of work undertaken, as freelancing platforms contribute to a trend towards casual work instead of full-time. Strong interpersonal skills, problem solving and critical thinking skills are identified as a need for this area to enable workers to operate as sole-traders or run micro-businesses. Business Services job roles are identified as being particularly transferable, allowing workers to take up roles in other sectors with relative ease. Micro-credentialing is expected to be in increasing demand to bridge the skills gap for changing work environments and develop agility across industries.

In the National CEO Survey: Business Prospects for 2019: Leadership Needed as Economy Softens by Australian Industry Group, 21% of participating businesses identified skill shortages as their top concern, up from 17% in 2018 and 7% in 2017. They also discuss their 2018 paper, Skilling: A National Imperative, where three quarters of their respondents reported skills shortages, including for the first time skills shortages in the areas of business automation, big data and artificial intelligence.

In a 2017 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 IRC’s 2017 Skills Forecast – PwC

Business Services IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast – PwC

National CEO Survey: Business Prospects for 2019: Leadership Needed as Economy Softens – Australian Industry Group

Skilling: A National Imperative – Australian Industry Group

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 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit 729 Other Administrative Services Industry, employment projections to May 2023.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 November 2018

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit 729 Other Administrative Services Industry, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter.

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 IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast. Each IRC has prioritised and ranked the generic skills.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019,

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 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
    • 5411 Call or Contact Centre Workers
    • 5421 Receptionists
    • 1311 Advertising, Public Relations and Sales Managers
    • 1399 Other Specialist Managers
    • 729 Other Administrative Services.
Updated: 18 Oct 2022
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