Labour market failure

All sides of politics have been given the same message – it’s the jobs issue mate – but the truth is that more work does not work any longer. Why not? Because the jobs, jobs, jobs mantra has become disconnected from the world of enterprise and innovation.

Around the world there is a growing sense of insecurity that is associated with labour market failure. More people are working for less hours and less income every day and there are even more people looking for jobs that simply do not exist in their old industrial form.

Every day the mainstream media reports another profit regenerating set of job cuts designed to reassure the remuneration committee that the interest of shareholders is the primary concern of the executive class. At the same time we have Wayne Swan trying to deflect attention from the latest internecine warfare saying that Australia has never had so many people at work.

The political turmoil and potential collapse of business and consumer confidence masks the reality of labour market failure.

According to the US-based polling group Gallup, there is still a huge shortfall in the number of real jobs. In his new book “The Coming Jobs War”, Jim Clifton, the organisation’s chairman, writes that five billion of the Earth’s seven billion people are adults aged 15 and older. Of these, three billion tell Gallup that they work or want to do so. Most need full-time, formal jobs (those that involve receiving a paycheck for steady work averaging more than 30 hours a week) Clifton points out, nearly a quarter of the world’s population is potentially subject to societal stress and instability.

“The problem is that there are currently only 1.2 billion full-time, formal jobs in the world. This is a potentially devastating global shortfall of about 1.8 billion good jobs. It means that global unemployment for those seeking a formal good job with a paycheck and 30+ hours of steady work approaches a staggering 50%, with another 10% wanting part-time work.” Jim Clifton, Gallup.


Under these conditions it is easy to see how Conservative party leaders around the globe are fomenting a demand for the immediacy of an early election to capitalise on the rising sense that refugees are coming for our jobs and that we have to repel boarders, cut benefits and protect the passions of the past.

This underlines the global dismay represented by the Arab Spring, unrest in former Soviet countries, turmoil in European nations faced with government employment cuts and Occupy Wall Street and Occupy the City protests. As it is for this reason that he adds that the demands of leadership have changed. Politics, military force, religion and personal values will not work for leaders in the way they have in the past.

“As of 2008, the war for good jobs has trumped all other leadership activities because it’s been the cause and the effect of everything else that countries have experienced.” Put simply, based on Gallup’s worldwide polling, nothing would do more to change the state of humankind more than the immediate appearance of 1.8 billion jobs

It’s time to stop the process of funding contractors to maintain the unemployed in training for non-existent jobs by scrapping subsidies for demeaning welfare maintenance systems and paying for new opportunities for work outcomes. This means supporting the abolition of payroll taxes for smart companies that take on the million people who are job willing and job ready who want a way out of the demonising form filling substitute for job creation.

How is it that Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb can point to the big end of town shedding labour but we do not hear from Bill Shorten, Mark Arbib and Dr Craig Emerson supporting the smart companies that have been creating part-time and casual jobs? The focus on industrial labour concerns is the answer – independent contractors and small business are not respected as the only significant source of new opportunities for work.

We should be following the approach of Andrew Forest and paying “start-up money” by providing training to generate self-respect and new opportunities for work.

Dr Colin Benjamin is an entrepreneurship and strategic thinking consultant at Marshall Place Associates, which offers a range of strategic thinking tools that open up a universe of new possibilities for individuals and organisations committed to applying the processes of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Colin is also a member of the global Association of Professional Futurists.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments