Almost 40% of Australian jobs that exist today, more than five million of them, have a moderate-to-high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years due to technological advancements, researchers say.
A study by CEDA (Committee for the Economic Development of Australia) shows Australia and the world is on the cusp of a new but very different industrial revolution.
The project examined the probability of job losses due to computerisation and automation in each local government area across Australia.
The research shows that in some parts of rural and regional Australia there is a high likelihood of job losses being more than 60%.
CEDA Chief Executive Stephen Martin says the labour market will be fundamentally reshaped by the scope and breadth of technological change.
“Currently the commitment needed to link education and innovation policy with funding is appalling compared to other countries and Australia’s industry innovation strategy is woefully underfunded compared to global competitors,” he says.
“For example the five industry growth centres announced last year by the Federal Government should be critical in driving innovation but only $190 million has been allocated over four years.
“In comparison, the UK Catapult Centres, which they are based on, have been allocated almost $3 billion over the same period.
“The German Fraunhofer Network, the Netherlands’ Top Sectors Strategy and US National Manufacturing Institutes have had even larger allocations.
“If we expect to compete with countries such as these as a smart and innovative economy then we need to get serious about how we invest in driving innovation.”
Professor Martin says we also need to reconsider how to deal with reskilling workers as particular fields of employment disappear.
“The CEDA report highlights the policy approach taken by Denmark to reskill mature age workers,” he says.
“The Danish approach is three pronged – greater flexibility around hiring and firing, generous unemployment benefits and substantial programs to help unemployed people gain new skills. Often these programs start before a person is even retrenched.
“In comparison Australia has the lowest levels of unemployment benefits of the OECD for a single person recently unemployed and often programs to assist with skills training do not start until a person has been unemployed for some time.
“The Danish model is underpinned by the same mutual obligation approach to Australia but rather than send people off on work-for-the-dole projects, it is training people with the skills their economy needs.
“The Danish policy while more expensive initially, makes long-term economic sense because it ensures people return to the workforce more quickly and with the skills the economy needs.
“As more job restructuring occurs in the Australian economy this type of policy is going to be vital.
“It is likely some tough decisions about the Australian labour market will need to be made in the next decade; we’ve already had a taste of this with the decline of the car manufacturing industry.
“However, if we develop the right policies now, we have the potential to reduce the impact of these challenges and ensure our economy remains robust.”
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