Pews are filled with people-helping tech-savvy professionals

People-focussed professions most common amongst church attenders

The 2016 National Church Life Survey reveals that just over a third of employed church attenders (35%) work in people-focussed professions. This has remained stable in the past five years (36% in 2011). Some 11% of employed churchgoers work in administrative, clerical, or sales occupations.

With so many churchgoers working directly with people, churches may be wise to use the skills and motivations of their attenders when building relationships with their local community.

Technology professions increasing, especially in younger attenders

The second largest group of churchgoers (15%) in one of the specified occupational groupings, are professionals working in technological fields, up from 11% in 2011.   

When looking at age groupings in the church, those aged 30-49 years of age currently have the highest proportion of "techies", with 21% of 30-49 year olds employed as technological professionals (compared to around 11% of all other attenders).

The low result for those aged 15-29 years of age (10%) may be attributed to young people still studying, so not yet being fully skilled. One could assume that as younger generations of workers are being trained for an increasingly digitalised and technological workforce, that technology use and digital literacy amongst attenders will be on the rise in church life in future.

Drop in administrative, clerical and sales workers

There is some evidence for a drop in occupations requiring lower levels of formal training.

The proportion of highly skilled people-focussed and technological professionals was similar in 2011 and 2016 (47% and 49% respectively). In contrast, the proportion of churchgoers employed in lesser qualified roles, such as administrative, clerical or sales jobs, nearly halved in five years, from 20% in 2011 to 11% in 2016.

Higher education rates in younger people are also being seen, which would contribute to more highly skilled graduates entering the workforce in the coming years. See article Education levels of Australian church attenders for more on education and its impact on modern day ministry.

Another rise is seen in "Other" occupations, from 13% in 2011 to 20% in 2016, perhaps revealing new categories of work roles evolving, that are not listed in the more traditional classifications of occupations. 

Some seven percent of attenders are small business owners, stable since 2011. 

Relatively underrepresented in churches are the more manual-labour occupations, including skilled trades or craft workers (5%), semi skilled or manual workers (5%) and farmers (3%).

Kathy Jacka, Miriam Pepper

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