There are major policy challenges arising from Tasmania’s ageing population, but also significant opportunities. Future-focussed policies and planning for education and training are increasingly important as the state experiences ageing workforces across many industry sectors and rapidly changing skill requirements as a result of a shifting economy.
Our research, led by demographer Lisa Denny, aims to inform public policy by analysing the changing nature of the Tasmanian workforce and the way Tasmanians engage with work.
The changing nature of work will be pivotal to social and economic change and well-being for Tasmanians into the future.
Getting and keeping a good job is one of the most important lifelong objectives for the vast majority of people across diverse geographies, cultures and demographics world wide.
A job allows individuals to participate in society, contribute to their community and generate income to support themselves and their dependents. Jobs provide security and freedom of choice and form an important part of self-identify and self-worth. It is undisputed that what happens in a person’s work matters for people’s quality of life and matters for society as a whole.
As we face a combination of technological megatrends occurring alongside significant economic, demographic and social shifts, the future of work and the implications for society are at the forefront of many peoples thinking.
While it is universally accepted that change is constant and that labour markets have always responded and evolved accordingly, the difference we are experiencing now is the rate of change. As industries respond, most occupations are undergoing a fundamental transformation. The full extent of this is yet to be felt in Australia’s labour market, and, as Tasmania traditionally lags the nation, perhaps we are well positioned to respond.
However, it is important not to ignore the elephant in the room; one in three Tasmanians live in the 20 per cent most disadvantaged regions in Australia, around half of Tasmanians are functionally illiterate and 74,000 are living below the poverty line. One fifth of Tasmanian children are growing up in a family in which no parent works - in an economy in which welfare payments are considered the most secure and reliable form of income.
In its Future of Work research program, the Institute will explore these issues with the aim of informing community discussion and policy decisions.
Key findings from the Institute for the Study of Social Change’s Institute Insight report series on the changing nature of work in Tasmania include:
- The Tasmanian workforce is dominated by industry sectors that are largely publicly funded.
- The greatest job losses between 2006 and 2016 in Tasmania were experienced by men employed full time in the male-dominated, manufacturing sector.
- The greatest job gains were experienced by women employed part time in the services based sectors of health care and social assistance and education and training.
- The construction industry was the only sector in which the majority of workforce growth was in full time employment (74.2 per cent of additional construction jobs were full time).
- More than half the workforce in six of the 19 industry sectors was aged over 45. This included two of the largest and fastest growing sectors: healthcare and social assistance (54.6 per cent); and education and training (54.4 per cent).
- Men are ‘disappearing’ from the workforce; fewer men were participating in the labour force for all age groups (except those older than 55) in 2016 than in 2006.
- The Tasmanian workforce is ageing at a faster pace than population growth.
- Younger Tasmanians are experiencing delayed and protracted entry into the workforce.
- Older Tasmanians are prolonging their working lives.