If you read the press about developments in the Australian employment markets you will be well aware that permanent employment is in decline. In fact sooner or later we will be all employed in “gig” roles such as driving Ubers or selling our skills on a casual basis, even if we are professionals. This is all very compelling, but it is also completely untrue.

An excellent review of the actual figures was undertaken by Robert Sobyra, a PhD student at the University of Queensland. He showed that:

  • The number of people in Australia in casual jobs is about what it was in 1995. During the global financial crisis (remember that?) casualisation increased, but has declined since.
  • Involuntary job loss is considerably lower than it was in 1995 and has been comparatively stable since declining from a high base in the ‘90s. This means that people are not being “casualised” out of jobs they want to hang on to.
  • The percentage of people who have jobs they have been in for more than one year is over 80% – higher than most of the recent decade.
  • The proportion of people who are self employed is under 17%, about the lowest total in well over a decade. In fact, as an entrepreneur I am alarmed to see the collapse in this form of employment. The gig workers who are self employed are in fact becoming significantly rarer.

Sobyra makes a very valid point. It appears that many of the players in workforce policy development, including politicians, believe this casualisation nonsense. Policy based on mythology is not good policy and does not lead to good workforce planning. To see the SACS approach to workforce planning click here.

Andrew Marty
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