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Responding to the Future of Work – we need to be doing more

As the nature of work around the world is changing, Australian workers, industries and governments will continue to be challenged by technological disruption.

A new report by the public policy McKell Institute, Opportunities in Change: Responding to the Future of Work, explores the long-term challenges and opportunities. It also puts forward ideas for navigating a path forward.

The report provides a snapshot of today’s Australian labour market, the forces that are shaping it, and the blind-spots to be addressed if we are to succeed in a competitive and disruptive 21st century global economy.

Key findings of the report

  • Australian workers, industries and governments will continue to be challenged by technological disruption for the foreseeable future. It’s not just the gig-economy that’s driving change: while platform work has emerged and is here to stay, traditional employment relationships still dominate the Australian labour market.
  • A focus on people, not only jobs is key. Lifelong learning from early childhood education through to retirement is the way to equip people with the skills to adapt with change.
  • Around 8 per cent of Australians are employed as ‘independent contractors’, with slightly over 100,000 workers employed full-time in the ‘gig economy’. Almost 2.6 million Australians, around 20.6 per cent of the workforce, are employed on a casual basis or in a freelance capacity (more than 40 per cent of millennials are believed to have freelanced in some capacity). This variety in employment arrangements has implications for workers’ health and safety and for the superannuation system.
  • Despite predictions of widespread workplace disruption, more than a quarter of Australian workers believe their job will continue to exist in 50 years’ time. This suggests complacency and may affect people’s participation in life-long learning and upskilling.
  • The Australian workforce is increasingly mobile: The Department of Jobs and Small Business estimated that there are more than 4 million movements into, out of and between jobs in the Australian economy every year.
  • Australia could be doing more to innovate and respond to the changing nature of work.

Read the full report here.

Read the fact sheet here.