KPMG’s Bernard Salt has penned an interesting piece in The Australian today whereby he has estimated that up to half of Australian jobs could be at risk from digitisation:
Whereas 47 per cent of jobs in the US are considered to be at risk from digital disruption, the proportion for Australia is 49 per cent. The capital city range for the proportion of the workforce most at risk extends from 46 per cent in Canberra to 50 per cent in Perth. Public servants are less likely to be displaced by disruption than fly-in fly-out miners, it would seem.
Australian cities most at risk ranges from about 45 per cent in the case of Ocean Grove, Alice Springs, Torquay and Gisborne to about 59 per cent at Kurri Kurri, Murray Bridge, Cessnock and Melton. Towns most at risk from digital disruption are dominated by mining and agriculture activities or are blue-collar commuter towns where there is a poorly developed local job market…
Suburbs where most of the workforce is expected to be subjected to digital disruption include Crace, Bonner and Casey on the newer edges of Canberra, Broadbeach Waters on the Gold Coast, carmaking Elizabeth in Adelaide, Kings Meadows outside Launceston, Taylors Lakes in Melbourne, Tuggerah on the Central Coast and Hillarys in Perth.
These communities are dominated by low-level white-collar and some blue-collar jobs that are deemed replaceable by artificial intelligence, digital connectivity and automation…
What can communities, governments and workers do now to mitigate the risk and the impacts of change?
Bernard Salt has clearly been giving this issue a lot of thought because last year he also warned that technological change could mean there will too few jobs to go around in the future:
What would be the impact on Australia, and the US, of a shift to knowledge work? Could the US leverage equal if not better economic output from a workforce of, say, 140 million instead of 164 million? And the same for Australia. What if by 2030 we don’t need 12 million workers; we needed only nine million? In such a world work retreats to knowledge enclaves such as Silicon Valley or to the privileged infrastructure-rich centres of Australia’s biggest cities.
How do we organise a society in which not everyone works yet where the number in the prime of their lives continues to expand?..
The question here and in the US will be the political ramifications from the development of a society where work and work-based remuneration may well be a scarce resource amid an expanding working-age population.
Given that Salt now believes that there could be too few jobs to go around in the future, does this mean that he is no longer a self-proclaimed “unabashed supporter of a bigger Australia”? For years Salt has produced reams of articles pushing rapid population growth and warning that to not follow this path would lead to an economic and fiscal catastrophe.
But surely in a nation facing too few jobs, the last thing that policy makers should do is add to labour supply via ongoing high immigration?