An IAG-backed report has urged the government to commission a whitepaper in collaboration with business, academia, and communities to tackle how the government and the private sector can respond to the evolving nature of work.
The report, released by McKell Institute, highlighted the critical role of lifelong learning in futureproofing the Australian workforce and ensuring Australian businesses remain competitive in a global marketplace.
“The future of work in Australia is an increasingly important issue for both the private sector and government to address,” said Gillian Folkes, IAG executive general manager. “We need to shift the conversation about the future of work from automation and robots taking our jobs, to how we can ensure Australians have the right skills for the type of work in the future and continue to have the appropriate level of protections and entitlements.”
IAG said around 8% of Australians are employed as independent contractors, while more than 100,000 are employed full-time in the gig economy.
These contractors often miss out on basic workplace entitlements, such as leave or superannuation, and are not adequately covered by workers’ compensation, presenting an opportunity to modernise Australia’s industrial relations framework to adapt to a changing workforce, the report said.
“The forces we know will define work in the future are already being felt,” said Sam Crosby of The McKell Institute. “Unfortunately, we are yet to face this new reality and much of our conversation about work still relies on old assumptions. We hope research like this serves as a timely reminder of how much work has changed, how much it’s likely to keep changing, and how we need to better prepare as a society to ensure no one gets left behind.”
The report also urged both the government and the industry to incentivise Australian workers to embrace continuous learning, after it revealed that more than a quarter of the workers believe their job will continue to exist in 50 years’ time.