The Casualization of the Australian Workforce and what it means for the Future.
Depending which side of the fence you’re sitting on, the growth of casual employment in Australia has either increased or remained steady. To sort out which is right however, we must first define what casualization means.
The term casualization is often used to refer to the growth of jobs with less-than-ideal conditions for employees such as employment insecurity, intermittent work, irregular hours, low wages and the absence of standard employment benefits. In Australia, “casual” jobs have a stricter definition – jobs with an hourly rate of pay, but lacking rights and benefits such as the right to be given notice, severance pay, and paid leave.
Although statistics are manipulated by those on either side of the fence to make their point, most economists agree that casualization of the workforce is here to stay. Over the past 20 years, the rate of casualization in the Australian workforce has fluctuated between ~21-26%. As the criteria for measuring casual work in that time has changed, it appears that no definitive conclusion can be drawn, though most accept it has been steady from the low-to-mid 20s percentile. Australia’s unemployment rate hovers at just over 5%, while underemployment is in the area of 8.5%. In the U.S., several sources point to casualization of the workforce as being over 30%. Is this a sign that Australia will see a rise in its own figures as its economy evolves?
This change in the nature of employment is partly a by-product of technology. Witness the operating structure of companies like Uber as a case in point. The rapid growth of companies categorized as start-ups has meant that casualization is becoming more readily accepted as standard employment practice across a broader spectrum. The picture often painted is that of “opportunity.”
Though the cause may be unrelated, the use of short-term employment contracts, particularly within certain functions like IT, has become much more common practice. The use of this employment structure is sometimes used as a means of testing the suitability of job candidates, or a result of short-term project-based business deliverables.
The changing nature of the workforce is not solely driven by commercial imperatives, however. The rising awareness of work-life balance and wellness has given impetus to those who “work to live” rather than “live to work.”
At Prima Careers, we understand the changing nature of the workplace. We keep abreast of the trends that are likely to occur in order to best service our clients’ specific needs. Knowledge is power, and the ability to guide individuals on their career path within a stable and secure environment is paramount to us.
Adaptability is a key requirement in today’s world of work. Understanding this is the difference between surviving and thriving. At Prima Careers, our goal for each and every individual we work with is to ensure they have a career in which they can thrive. This is our commitment.