Employment Headwinds – ABC Radio Future of Work Series.
I was asked to deliver of Future of Work series with Annie Gaffney on ABC radio.
It was over a period of three months during 2017.
This is an outline of the final session
The population is growing, less people are dying, jobs are changing from full time to contract and at the same time more machines are doing both mind and muscle work… and of course technology is speeding up.
Yes, Australia remains “the Lucky country”
- Australia is currently one of the top ten richest countries in the world.
- The average Australians wealth is about $375,000. Which ranks second on the global stage.
There are potential head winds ahead.
- Changes in employment conditions.
a. Driven by many factors including the advent of technology.
- Stagnant wage growth.
- Rising inequality.
For the average Australian, the impact on wealth inequality is not yet apparent.
There is still a lot of fat from 26 years of sustained economic growth.
In summary Australia, has just over 24 million people of which 12 million are employed in some capacity.
Although our unemployment rate is below 6%. Under employment is an issue.
- 1.1million of the 12 million are now underemployed.
- This is the highest level in wealthy nations per head of population.
- The average underemployed person needs on average 15hours more work.
- Youth underemployment is running at 20%
2. Stagnant Wage Growth
Our wage growth is a growing concern. It is the lowest in recorded history.
Obviously there are many reasons. However:
- There is currently more people than jobs and therefore there is a supply and demand issue.
- The ongoing casualization, and outsourcing of the workforce
- Australia is the least unionised country in the OECD countries
- Unionism is an all-time low of 15%.(OECD is 25%)
• 6% with people under 24.
To help combat this:
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has announced a 3.3% increase to minimum wages.
(The new national minimum wage will be $694.90 per week or $18.29 per hour)
3. Growing Inequality
In Australia, 20th century children believed they were going to be more financially better off than their parents. Today this is not the sentiment particularly for the middle classes and below.
- A few handful of billionaires have as much money as bottom 50% of the world’s population.
- There are 60 Australian billionaires, the most there have ever been on the rich list’s 34-year history and three names are above the $10 billion mark.
One of the greatest threats to Australian society, which is a fractal of what is happening in the world, is the rise of inequality. Like Marilyn Munroe’s waist:
- Well paid jobs at the top.
- Few jobs in the middle
- Low paid jobs serving the rich at the bottom.
A. The nature of work is fundamentally changing.
The gig economy is taking hold in Australia.
- Full time work is being replaced by more insecure or part time work.
- You go from one gig to another without regular hours.
- You often use your own tools like cars, computers etc.
- There is 54,000 Uber Drivers in Australia
It is not new. In the 18th century it was called “putting out “or “piece meal” work.
- Women picked up textiles from the factory, went home and sewed garments on their own sewing machine and returned the work to the factory.
Did you know?
- 30% of workers in Australia will be contractors or part time by 2020.
- 32 percent of all workers are employed part-time, or almost one in three.
- It is anticipated that 40% of all Australian jobs as we know them will disappear in the next ten years.
The data is staggering but are we as a nation or individuals sitting up and taking notice?
B. No one knows what the future looks like.
But what we do know is:
- Globalisation has been sudden, unpredictable and a bit uncontrollable and has changed how and when we can be work.
- Professional jobs are following blue collar jobs and are being reduced to components and much of work is being done by computers
- Currently 75% of jobs in Australia are now white collar and that is changing fast.
- Technology is on steroids.
- The robots have broken free of the factory
- The automated farm, car and drone is the way of the future.
- It’s all about mind muscle.
- The future is about algorithms big data bots and AI.
- Everything being connected as with smart cities.
- The prediction is that the top three growth industries in by 2025 are:
i. Health care and social assistance
ii. Professional, scientific and technical services
iii. Education and training
C. What we know is we must consider future work options;
We can’t just leave it to chance alone or for history to repeat.
It is not clear about what the jobs of the future are, however protecting jobs as a strategy just won’t work.
- Can you imagine protecting the stage coach driver with the introduction of the steam train?
Governments need to play a bigger role. Looking at protecting individual workers, not individual jobs. Some are doing just that like the Scandinavian countries. They have a system called Flexi security
- Where a citizen is not guaranteed a job but they will help you find a job, no matter what happens.
- Many are trialling a Universal Basic Income.
Australians need to demand a bigger public debate not only by the people who are creating the new economy but by people who are living it. Like many of you listening to this today.
- The debate and data collection must focus on viable employment not just employment.
- One hours work in Australia classifies you as employed.
(I have a video and article on my website about this about this very subject.)
Businesses need to understand they can no longer decouple their financial and social responsibilities and have a healthy society. Some are leading the way but not enough.
- They can focus on re-educating employees instead of dumping them.
- 300 thousand redundancies in 2016 alone.
- They can create cross generational mentoring programs to help people learn from each other.
As Individuals, each of us must take the time to help create our future and our children’s future. Not just take it for granted, say we are too busy or leave it to others.
We must keep informed and act as appropriate. It is not about Dark Vader or Pollyanna. As the following quote says:
The pessimists complain about the wind
The optimists expects the winds to change.
The realists adjust the sails.
It’s time for governments, businesses, educators and all of us to adjust our sails.
Viable employment opportunities for all Australians is important.
Don’t take apathy or no for an answer.
Our future is too important.
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