A new national survey by Deakin University has revealed that while 97% of the population believe that Australia is a sporting nation, there is still low awareness of the projected industry growth and career potential in sport.
Speaking to over 1000 Australian parents and 300 high school students aged 16-17, the survey sought to understand the population’s sentiment towards sport and careers in sport-related fields.
The survey comes as Australia is set to enter an unprecedented decade of sport – with the nation anticipated to host 10 major global sporting events over the next 10 years, generating thousands of job opportunities for those interested in sport-related fields.
When asked about their awareness of major sporting events taking place in Australia over the next decade, almost half of Australian parents surveyed were unaware that the Olympic Games (48%), the FIFA Women’s World Cup (39%), the Paralympic Games (31 %) and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup (31%) will be held in Australia.
Combined with recurring annual events such as the Australian Open and the Formula 1, and tens of thousands of jobs are expected to be created while, looking at the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games alone, the Queensland Government anticipates over 130,000 direct jobs will be created locally.
Yet, when asked to predict the number of job opportunities to be created by the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, 40% of Australian parents predicted fewer than 5,000 jobs will be created. This was also the perception among students, with almost half (46%) believing fewer than 5,000 jobs will be created.
Despite this underestimation, 91% of parents say that they would support their child in pursuing a career in a sport-related field if they were interested in doing so. In fact, 58% say they definitely would support them.
Respondents were also questioned on why they think Australia is a sporting nation with the most common reasons parents consider this is being as a result of the nation’s strong performance in international competitions (61%), the world-class sporting events Australia hosts (61% ) and the strong community sports programs through local clubs (61%).
Parents were least likely to consider Australia a sporting nation because of the career opportunities in sport (33%).
Director of Deakin Sport, Professor David Shilbury, says the survey findings are a result of long-held biases about studying and pursuing sport-related careers in Australia.
Professor Shilbury advised “the Australian sport industry is one of the most diverse and celebrated in the world. However, it’s unsurprising to hear its size and expected growth is being underestimated.
“Although Australia produces some of the world’s more respected sport administrators, managers and scientists, it is typically the success of our athletes that steals the limelight, not so much the work that is achieved beyond the field of play.
“The next generation of sports professionals will be exposed to an exceptional number of opportunities, more so than any other generation. Those interested in sport or a sport-related field would be wise to begin developing their skills now, helping them to take full advantage of the rich career pathways that lie ahead.”
The report also revealed insights into the influence Australian parents have over their child’s career choices, with 82% of students agreeing that their parents/guardians have influence over their job choices. Of those, 16% of students believe their parents have a significant influence.
Mirroring this, three-quarters (78%) of parents believe they have influence over their child’s career path, with a quarter (24%) believing they have a significant influence.
Conversely, one-in-five Australian students surveyed (21%) don’t feel confident that their parents would encourage them to pursue a career in a sport-related field.
Melbourne Vixens netballer and Deakin University student Kate Moloney says opportunities to pursue a career in sport in Australia are there for the taking, adding “the Australian sporting industry has flourished over the last decade. With the introduction of international competitions and a stronger contingent of professional women’s leagues, we are living through one of the most exciting eras in Australian sport. Parents should take comfort in the fact that if their child is interested in a career in sport, the opportunities are plentiful and diverse.”
Deakin University is ranked #1 in the world for sport science and sixth in the world for sport-related subjects.
Earlier this year, the Federal Government’s Job Outlook website advised that demand for fitness instructors is expected to remain strong over the next five years.
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Image: The 2006 Commonwealth Games at the MCG. Credit: Shutterstock.
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