Professor Phil Lewis, from University of Canberra, talked last night at the Australian Computer Society/ISACA Canberra joint meeting on "The Future of the workforce: Drivers and Challenges".
Phil pointed out that in the seventies many people worked in manual labor, but now more than 80% are in the service sector. Also less than 4% of the workforce are in mining and agriculture. Most of the mining jobs are in the city, with most mine-site work done by remotely monitored machinery.
Phil pointed out that it now takes longer for university graduates to get a job, but "Don't worry, you will still get a job". However, the biggest indicator of employability is school leaving: those who did not complete grade 12 have difficulty getting any job. A TAFE diploma, university degree or higher degree results in better job prospects. An investment in a degree is still worthwhile, unless, Phil mischievously suggested, you do creative arts.;-)
Phil suggested that Australian employers, unlike those in Germany, expect university graduates to be "job ready". In contrast German employers expect to have to train their employees, after their general eduction.
One question from the audience was about small businesses empowered by the Internet. This was a good question and I have one of these businesses. However, Phil pointed out that the statistics show that the proportion of people employed in small business has decreased. He pointed out that the opportunity cost of running a business in Australia is high. There are ways around some of the costs. As an example, I get low cost indemnity insurance through the ACS.
One interesting question from the audience was what do recent international graduates of Australian universities do to get a job. The graduates get a visa to work in Australia but companies in Canberra are reluctant to hire them as they do not have permanent residency. One solution, I suggest, is to take advantage of the help provided by the ACT Government to set up a company and contract yourself out.
ps: On 27 June, the Australian Computer Society released its Digital Pulse Report, on jobs and education in the IT sector. On 4 June I talked to an Australian Senate Committee on the Future of Work and Workers.