Governments and communities the world over continue to struggle to contain the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic while supporting the recovery from its devastating economic impacts. This challenge has many dimensions but developing a detailed understanding of the changing nature of work in the context of the pandemic and the policies and strategies required to sustain employment growth in the emerging 'new normal' will be vital for supporting and sustaining economic recovery.
This University of Tasmania discussion paper has two broad objectives. It begins by providing a detailed analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on work in Tasmania through to June 2021 including the different ways in which particular industries, regions, occupations and cohorts of workers have been impacted. The discussion paper then focuses on emerging trends regarding the future of work as the Australian economy slowly emerges from the pandemic. There is a good deal of short-term uncertainty regarding the trajectory of the economic recovery but the discussion paper identifies four key longer-terms trends regarding the future of work:
- Trend 1: The acceleration of digitisation and use of technology in the workplace
- Trend 2: Economic restructuring and increasing inequality
- Trend 3: Declining migration, mobility, and labour shortages
- Trend 4: Accelerating enterprise creation and new forms of work
While evidence of these emerging trends is mounting, uncertainty also abounds.
Given this outlook the discussion paper does not attempt to model or predict Tasmania's future workforce but seeks to provide an evidence base and outline possible scenarios to inform and guide the ongoing discussion about the future of work and how to maximise employment in the aftermath of the pandemic.
While Tasmania's economy has recovered relatively strongly from the initial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, a strategic approach to ensuring more Tasmanians have access to sustainable and fulfilling work of the future is needed. If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity to re-assess and take stock of employment in Tasmania and develop plans to actively harness future trends. As articulated by the Premier's Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council: 'Recovery isn't just about restoring what we had before. Recovery is also about building stronger, smarter, better.'
If you would like a briefing or further information on this report on The University of Tasmania's ongoing research and analysis on employment in Tasmania please contact
Prof. Richard Eccleston, Director of the Tasmanian Policy Exchange – Richard.Eccleston@utas.edu.au
Sarah Hyslop, Project Manager, Tasmanian Policy Exchange – Sarah.Hyslop@utas.edu.au