Precarious employment rising rapidly among men

Precarious employment over the last nine years has increased for both men and women, but more rapidly for men, according to the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre’s latest report.

The BCEC report, Future of Work in Australia: Preparing for tomorrow’s world, examines changes in the organisation of work, the quality of jobs, the wages workers receive and the likely skills needed to meet the jobs of the future.

BCEC Director and report author Professor Alan Duncan said that while precarious work is typically much higher among the female workforce, the rapid rise among men is cause for concern.

“Our index of precarious work reveals that higher-skilled occupations such as professionals and managers have more stable employment, while traditionally male-held positions such as labourers and machinery operators and drivers are in the most precarious job circumstances,” Professor Duncan said.

Men are also working fewer hours, and real growth in hourly pay has stalled since 2014, particularly among labourers and machinery operators and drivers.

In moving towards the labour market of the future, there will inevitably be a transformation in the nature of work, and the workplace.

“We can expect ‘traditional’ jobs and workplace orthodoxies to give way to new ways of working, and modes of employment,” Professor Duncan said.

“People are likely to change jobs more regularly in the future, to work fewer hours, or to hold more than a single job at some point in their careers.”

Report co-author Associate Professor Rebecca Cassells, Principal Research Fellow at BCEC, said the report also highlighted a big shift towards female-dominated occupations and away from jobs that have typically been held by men.

“The female-dominated health care and social assistance sector averaged 4.5 per cent annual employment growth between 2008 and 2018 – almost three times the pace of employment growth across all sectors,” Associate Professor Cassells said.

Women also dominated the top ten growth occupations between 2006 and 2016, adding 150,000 additional carers and aides, and 185,000 education and health professionals.

“It’s important that as a society we look to re-shape traditional attitudes towards gendered work and ‘male’ and ‘female’ jobs. This will ensure that men are also able to take advantage of future job opportunities,” Associate Professor Cassells said.

The gendered nature of jobs growth is also reflected in study choices, with domestic enrolments in health sciences among women having tripled between 2001 and 2016.

“We may not be able to afford carrying on with gendered patterns of education for much longer if we want to have a society where everyone has a fair chance of getting a job,” Associate Professor Cassells said.

Jobs currently held by lower-skilled men are more susceptible to technological displacement, and they may be less equipped to take up the growing number of human services jobs that will be on offer.

Professor Alan Duncan added that as the Australian labour market moves towards a more highly-skilled workforce, industry, government and educational institutions all have a critical role to play in ensuring that up-skilling programs are available to those workers at risk of being displaced in the new world of work.

“One of the greatest challenges in preparing for the future of work is to ensure that no one is left behind,” Professor Duncan said.

“It is imperative that all workers – particularly low-skilled men – have access to retraining and education opportunities that smooth their transition to new, higher skilled jobs, or into other forms of employment.”

Source: Curtin University

Image courtesy of Curtin University

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