Dollar Ready: The Allure of the Short-Term Fix.
Have you heard of the term being “dollar ready”? I recently engaged in a conversation with a business person and he said that their organisation was not employing people who were not “dollar ready”. They would employ skilled people from overseas rather than employ juniors or graduates, because they did not provide the dollars on day one.
This attitude is not shared by all businesses; however, the term “dollar ready” is evocative language. It does make you sit up and take notice, especially when you are aware of the youth unemployment trends in Australia.
The youth unemployment rate is double the national average. It is 13.3%.
Youth underemployed is 20%.
Graduate employment is the lowest it’s been since the 1992-93 recession.
Apprenticeship numbers have declined since 2010.
Outsourcing is only being gazumped by robotics.
Leaders of industry can no longer afford to consider every decision through the lenses of short term dollars. There are social consequences. Australian youth unemployment is only one.
The move to contract labour, part time work and outsourcing is all driven by reduction of costs. This approach is slowly affecting all generations. The impact on the youth is just the most obvious.
Ignore the monthly unemployment number for a moment and realise that one sixth of the Australian workforce is unemployed or underemployed. They don’t have enough work. This level of underemployment is the highest in the developed world.
Anytime there is an employment revolution there is an adjustment period. History tells us during that time, there are winners and losers and it can take years to readjust. For example:
At the beginning of the industrial revolution, real wages fell by 10% between 1770 and 1840.
It took 60 to 70 years for wages to sustainably rise again.
The result was a massive widening of inequality and there was no safety net for the losers. Some historians believe this helped lead to the Russian revolution.
Never has it been more important for society that business leaders understand that business economic viability can no longer be separated from social responsibility. That one is not good without the other.
Business leaders must play a role, want to play a role and believe their actions can make a difference. They need to consciously decide to help find employment solutions which work for both the business and the societies in which they operate.
If being dollar ready is important when the youth begin work, then investing in them while they are at school, during apprenticeships or at university is key.
There are many options to be explored. Combine old initiatives with new initiatives. Adopt a school program, or employ university students to work on practical projects. Invest in structured cross generational mentoring programs to help generations learn from each other and develop each other’s skills. Engage communities to help create options.
If creating viable employment for Australians is important, then focusing on outsourcing, contracting and part time work instead of a full time work approach may need to be challenged and employment options be recreated.
As Australians, we cannot accept that a 13.3% unemployment rate for our youth. We must sit up and take notice and help make our youth be dollar ready, if that is what it takes.
For suggestions on how to help be employed. Read my article dedicated to this. How to Help our Youth be Employed?
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