The New Work Order

The Foundation for Young Australians has released a comprehensive new report The New Work Order.

It showcases some of the serious issues Australian young people are facing as a result of the changing nature of work:

  • 70% of young people enter the work force in jobs that will be affected by automation
  • Entry level roles are disappearing
  • 60% of students are being trained for jobs that will be changed by automation
  • More than half of Australian workers will need to be able to use, configure or build digital systems in the next 2-3 years
  • 30% of Australia’s workforce are engaged in flexible work for multiple employers
  • The top 1% of income earners had 42% higher income growth than the bottom 90% of income earners in the last 15 years

The Foundation argue the three key forces changing the nature of work are automation, globalisation, and increased collaboration. These create opportunities for lower barriers, more flexibility, and wider markets with more specialisation. However they also create risks of unemployment, inequality, and insecurity.

The report notes 70% of Australian’s under 34 were willing to use digital on-demand platforms like Uber and to find work. In addition 68% of those aged 18 to 30 believe they have the opportunity to become an entrepreneur. This signifies how much work may change in this area in future.

The policy solutions they raise as part of a national enterprise skills strategy include:

  • Implementing mandatory computing or digital technologies curriculum from primary schools
  • Ensuring access to digital infrastructure e.g. broadband in all schools and communities
  • Promoting entrepreneurship as a viable career option to school and tertiary students
  • Providing strong start-up incentives for young people including income support, grants, loans with preferential terms, tax exemptions and guidance/coaching
  • Making publically-funded education places in VET and university available to students wishing to undertake entrepreneurship education in facilities run by entrepreneurs
  • Using public expenditure to drive demand for employment among key groups at risk of non-participation
  • Providing the option for superannuation accountholders to invest some of the superannuation in a Venture Capital (VC) & Private Equity (PE) innovation stream
  • Relaxing the constraints around crowdfunding
  • Reducing the tax wedge, or the difference between employer payment and take-home pay, by lowering the tax rate on low-income labour
  • Offsetting income tax rates reductions with higher taxes on capital gains and select consumption
  • Increasing initiatives to ‘make work pay’ for low-income workers, including tax credits
  • Creating an intermediate category of labour between independent contractor and employee
  • Appointing an advisor to government on the freelance economy
  • Encouraging or requiring online digital platforms to self-regulate
  • Promoting the creation of workers benefits and protections that match the ‘unit-level’ of tasks in the freelance economy

What do you think about the issues raised in this paper? Are there any of these policy options we should be looking at in New Zealand?

Read more about issues like these in the Future of Work Commission’s issues papers.

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