Australia’s Impending Labor Crisis

Many countries are known for having a certain type of labor market that accounts for more of the overall employment share than others. In Australia, this market is that of casual workers. Employees who work part-time, short contract length jobs, comprise the casual workers category. These workers may or may not have guaranteed hours for up to 19 hours of work per week. There are a variety of different industries and types of work that tend to hire casual workers. As can be seen from the information provided, there is not a whole lot of job stability when it comes to casual work in Australia where nearly 36% of all jobs available may be classified as “casual work”.

A common theme in the news is the ability of technology to change organizations. With the rise of conglomerates, the labor market is seeing a decreasing number of front line staff necessary for operations with companies replacing them with computerized self-serve checkout options. The future of casual work may be more dire than previously imagined. The abilities of programmers to create robust systems that require very simple user input is decreasing the need for human workers in many different service sectors.

This trend can be seen in different industries as well as in different countries. In Japan, there are many restaurants and dining establishments that require you to order your food through a self serve machine, very much like how you would purchase a movie ticket at a self-serve kiosk. This way the organization is able to employ fewer serving staff than they would conventionally need if these restaurants operated with a more traditional approach.

This problem is exacerbated in Australia where a greater gap is developing in the labor force between those with advanced degrees and higher education and those without. Additionally, many of those who work in the casual labor market have been unsuccessful in finding full time jobs and may end up working longer than full time hours (across multiple casual jobs), without obtaining any of the benefits they would normally receive if they were regular, full time employees.  In response to this, the Liberal party leader, Scott Morrison, has professed that the government will work to create over 1.25 million full time jobs in the next 5 years.

From this information, it seems as though Australia may be at risk for a future labor crisis. With increasing automation each year, casual labor positions may be diminished from service industries that have the potential of being replaced by impressively programmed machines. Conversely, with the proposed changes to the labor laws by Scott Morrison, organizations in Australia may be faced with the tough prospect of being required to hire more full-time, non-casual, staff. As with any organization, employing full time staff becomes more expensive when benefits are taken into account.

These impending increases in organizational costs may provide companies with no choice but to hire fewer employees to cover their operational needs, or to succumb to the financial deficits that will be inevitable after the increased employee costs are accounted for. Overall, the next 5 years will be a period of change for the labor market in Australia, and these changes will be governed by a variety of factors such as the political leadership and the increasing capabilities and affordability of technology adoption and implementation into the workforce.

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