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Bloggers and thought leaders with a passion for regional economic development, innovation and business improvement.
Future of Work and Jobs

ED Toolbox maps the impact of 20+ disruptive technologies on 400 business categories across 19 industry sectors.

It’s taken a while, but the ED Toolbox is now launched.

It is a simple platform for students and their parents, providing insights into the impact disruptive technologies are having on the future of work and jobs. 

Ed Toolbox maps over 20 disruptive technologies against 400 business categories across 19 industry sectors. Which includes just about every organisation that employs people. 

These disruptive technologies are a challenge to the same business categories in every country in the world, so the ED Toolbox could be useful to parents and students elsewhere as well.

Over the years, I have consistently posted on Linkedin my concerns about the changing nature of work and jobs, based on results from our 50,000 surveys of ICT adoption and use. 

Disruptive technologies are a real challenge, not just to businesses today, but to businesses and other organisations for many years into the future.

It’s not all bad news. But it’s not all good news either. And some sectors do much better than other sectors.

Which is why students and their parents need to understand where the threats and opportunities are. It’s their future.

My posts generated lots of in-mails, emails and comments. In fact, when I post, this particular subject gets more likes and comments than any other.

“We get it. But can you please do something to help students and especially their parents better understand how disruptive technology is changing the world? Because most don’t have a clue.”

Which on the whole is true. Students are native adopters and users of technology, but don’t have the experience, history and wider context to understand where devices and software fit into the world around them. 

And most parents still believe that things are the way they used to be when they first got a job.

But things are very different today. And based on our research, the picture doesn’t look positive for our kids and grandkids, when you consider what they are being taught at school.

The curriculum doesn’t match or prepare students for the new work (or lack of work) environment.

What the results of our 50,000 surveys demonstrated was pretty much the same as what Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne from Oxford Martin School found in 2013, when they published their report stating 47% of jobs were under threat. 

We just arrived at the same conclusion from a different direction. Frey and Osborne looked at job roles under threat. We looked at business processes and activities impacted by new technology.

Which allowed us to map individual disruptive technologies to individual business categories and map the degree of challenge, opportunity or threat. 

Not just from robotics and AI, but Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D printing, Augmented Reality, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Cloud services, BIM, GPS, 5G, Cryptocurrency, Cybersecurity, Drones, Digital Identity, IP protection, Robots, Virtual Reality, Amazon, airbnb, Freelancer, Google, Uber etc, not forgetting climate change and “fake news”.

And 47% of jobs under threat seems about right, though that percentage should probably be a bit higher.

For half of industry sectors including mining, agriculture, arts and recreation etc, technology offers many new opportunities.

For the other half the prognosis is not so healthy or optimistic.

But whether the prognosis for business is good or bad, there is an underlying problem across all industries – overall there is net job loss.

Technology tends to replace not displace, which we have not seen before in our history. 

With previous revolutions it was mainly job displacement and new opportunity. This time it is job replacement and “musical chairs” – with not enough new world jobs (chairs) to replace the old world jobs we are losing.

And on top of that, the new world jobs are a mix of high tech-high skill-high reward jobs (which don’t suit everybody) and low tech–low skill-low reward jobs which lead nowhere.

Other than to a destination nobody wants to visit.

But we do have time to do something about this, once we properly wake up to the challenge. Because the rate of disruption and change can be influenced, both by corporate and government. 

It can be slowed down to give us time to act intelligently - but it can’t be stopped.

The challenges don’t all come at once. The impact of new technologies will be felt over the next 15 to 20 years, which gives us time to prepare. But we have to prepare now. If you can see the tsunami coming towards you, it is too late to move.

Some industries are being challenged first (now), with others having a lot more time to “avoid the tsunami and run for the hills”.

The problem is that the impacts of digital disruption are not usually as dramatic as a physical tsunami. The impacts are largely invisible and unreported and often even ignored. 

Just the occasional story of, “80,000 people being sacked from this bank, or 20,000 from that media company or 1,000 from this lead smelter” and so on.

We read the news reports but don’t join the dots.

And an administration person leaving a small business goes unreported completely. Yet we live in a country where half the working population is in small business. Software comes in – a person goes out. 

And it all adds up.

Even the slow ongoing integration of systems in larger organisations is pushing people out the door. Software in its many guises is increasing efficiency and eliminating jobs. It’s not just about robotics and AI.

By now, we have all heard the joke, “the factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.”

Hopefully, it won’t be quite that bad, but you get the idea.

And as long as we stay in control of the process, and channel resources into the right places – regions, productive industries, export, scaleups and startups - we could even manage this transition productively, if we make our decisions with a view to the greater good, the longer term, and the broader society we all live in and not just the next quarter’s bottom line.

But we can’t continue to ignore the enormity of the disruption.

Leave it to market forces and we are stuffed.

This process has to be managed wisely. There is already inequity in the society we live in. The continual impact of digital disruption will just compound this.

IMF modelling suggests that there will be increasing wage disparity between the “new skilled” and the “low skilled” increasing inequality even further.

Not just creating more “have everythings” = 1%, but a lot more “have not muchs,” and a new class of “have absolutely nothings”. 

Disappointingly, we have become used to the first two groupings, but not yet accepting of the increasing disparity between the two.

But the new group of “have absolutely nothings” is growing. People in this group without opportunity become depressed, sick and suicidal and put even more stress on our hospital system. And some will become angry, increasingly isolated, and even violent and put stress on the police, courts and prison system.

Which we don’t want. And we can’t afford.

And it’s why we have to manage this transition with 20-20 vision. Not just let it happen without any control.

There is a lot we can do to manage the future.

And we need to do everything we can. But we can start by helping students and parents – who are challenged by these changes – better understand the disruptive technologies, and the industries under threat. This is about their future.

Then students and parents can make better study and work choices, and even begin to help sort out the world of work, by creating jobs themselves.

This transition can be managed productively. We have the resources, the productive industries and there is no lack of good will. If we can just harness these collaboratively then the future looks good.

Entrepreneurialism needs to become universal. We are an amazingly well resourced country. We just have to use and husband all our resources like farmers, with intelligence, and a clear vision for a productive industry led future.

Understanding starts with awareness. 

So in response to the Linkedin comments - “We get it. But can you please do something to help students and parents better understand how disruptive technology is changing the world? Because most don’t have a clue.” – we built the ED Toolbox.


It’s a start. There is more to come. And the Ed Toolbox will be regularly updated.

The Ed Toolbox for students and parents is launched. We now start work on a version for High Schools.

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Australia’s future needs you.

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In Australia we are rich in resources. We rely on minerals. For they pay the royalties that keep state and federal treasurers happy.

We rely on education. Education for foreign students provides the income that keeps Chancellors and Deans happy.

But overreliance on both puts us into the pocket of decision makers elsewhere. We are not masters of our own destiny. When we should be.

For we have another hugely under-utilised resource here in Australia, and that is innovation and creativity. Manifested in the smart minds of ideas generators across the country, in universities, businesses, bedrooms, home offices and garages.

Yet, we somehow fail to leverage this resource effectively. Many of our brightest minds and most innovative ideas are picked up by vulture capital and taken offshore to benefit somebody else’s economy, not ours.

We could, for example, apply Australian innovation and creativity to our minerals, rather than just ship them out the door without value adding. We have minerals a plenty. We have rare earths and metals. We have the ability to process them. And we have the knowledge to build batteries and even battlestars. But we currently don’t have the will.

We should add more value to the things we grow. We have started, but we could marshal our creative strengths in design, branding, marketing and advertising and apply them a lot more effectively than we do today.

To engage with the world in a mature manner, we need to maximise the growth, promotion and selling of our productive industries strategically and intelligently, with “joined up thinking”, smarter planning, value adding, targeting and a lot more export. 

We need to support our productive industries with investment into agriculture, creative industries, defence, ICT, manufacturing, METS, medical and health, smart trades and tourism.

For productive industries create revenue, export dollars and jobs. 

They generate the wealth that feeds the taxman. That allows us to pay for the services and support industries that are important in a healthy society. But the sustainable wealth and opportunity is created by productive industries not support industries and services.

And we have to support the expansion of our productive industries to diversify our economic base to become more resilient, and less open to the impacts of changes in demand on any one sector of our economy.

We have to reach out and engage with more export markets to mitigate the impacts of political whim and popularistic leaders. And reduce our reliance on one overseas market if we want to provide jobs for our children and grandchildren into the future.

We have opportunities like few other countries in the world, because we are resource rich. With minerals and food, innovation and creativity.

But we are not taking full advantage of the wealth and value that surrounds us. 

And the world around us is changing fast.

And slipping steadily into recession.

Unemployment and underemployment in Australia is close to 20%. See Roy Morgan Research for an explanation of this figure. Roy Morgan provides the facts of unemployment rather than the fiction.

The big banks and telcos have shed nearly 200,000 jobs over the last few years – moving people mostly in well-paid jobs into unemployment. But with sizable redundancy payments and other entitlements many of these new unemployed are able to exist for months or even years without impacting the unemployment statistics. 

Further disguising the facts of unemployment.

Over the same period, the public sector generated 300,000 new jobs across Australia, while the private sector only added 54,000. Even further disguising the facts of unemployment.

Public sector jobs are non-productive roles that don’t generate revenue, exports or new opportunity. Centrelink on steroids.

This is not healthy.

Across the world the proportion of people in “insecure” jobs is creeping upwards. Less than half of all Australian workers now have permanent full-time jobs. In Australia about 4 million people now work on short-term contracts.

And the uncertainty of employment explains why cutting interest rates and even tax cuts, is not going to kick start the economy.The job insecure will not question low wages for fear of losing work. The job insecure will pay down debt for fear of the rainy day they know is coming.

It’s really not hard to understand why inflation is so low. It's not hard to understand continual low wages. Even Philip Lowe is beginning to awaken to this new reality. And he is right about infrastructure spending.

There is a universal shift to lower wages. Even within Google, less than half of workers are full time employees. Most are temps and contractors, receiving a fraction of the wages and benefits of full time workers, and with no job security.

The proportion of Australian workers in some type of non-standard employment is the third highest in the OECD, behind the Netherlands and Switzerland, both of which have better protection for casual workers.

The fastest growing category of new jobs is gig work – contract, part-time, temp, self-employed and freelance.

Increasingly, businesses need only a small number of well-paid specialists  – innovators, strategists and senior management – responsible for core business and competitive edge. Most everybody else can be replaced by software, or outsourced. To the gig economy.

Which is the point so many ‘economists” miss. Software replaces, not displaces. 

There is a myth currently being promoted, that people will lose jobs because of digital disruption (software) but that new jobs in different industries will be created to replace them. Jobs will be created but nowhere near enough.

And jobs do not exist in a vacuum. Businesses create jobs to fulfil necessary tasks, processes and activities. If those are being done by software, there is no requirement for a job. And few businesses keep somebody in employment if there is nothing for them to do.

Even businesses that can afford to employ people, should they so choose, such as banks with vast profits, are downsizing as a result of software. The big Australian banks have all got rid of tens of thousands of workers over the past few years. And only employed a few hundred in new job roles in IT and data analysis.

And most of the profits of economic growth, created by technology and software, have been captured by large corporations and their shareholders. The rewards going to the 1% not to the average worker.

The gig economy and software efficiency is making capitalism harsher. 

Dividing “workers” into Haves. Have nots. And Have nothing. 

The reality of this shift in society is being disguised in a variety of ways. 

For political reasons, ideological reasons, wilful blindness and wishful thinking.

We are moving into dangerous territory. And with continuing job demolition as a result of technology and digital disruption, the situation is destined to get worse and worse.

All jobs will not disappear as result of digital disruption. An estimate of 47% seems reasonable. But whatever the percentage, there will be far fewer "jobs" available than there are at the moment. 

We are now engaged in a rather cruel game of musical chairs, where everybody plays the game with an expectation that there is a place for them to sit, but chairs are being continually removed. 

The players with expectation are our children, students, the unemployed and the underemployed. 

Our children and students expect there will be jobs, in the way there always were. But there won't be. 

They are being taught with an expectation that is the case. But it isn't. 

And the unemployed are forced into a charade that getting their CV right or updating their IT skills will be enough to get a job. But it won't.

We have to plan for the Haves, the Have nots and the Have nothings.

Each group requires a different strategy. There are solutions. We have plentiful resources. And we can use our creativity and innovation to address these challenges successfully. 

But more of the “same old, same old” isn’t going to the get the job done.

See my previous article “And after the election…what then?”

The big picture is that Australia is still largely riding on the back of mining royalties. Iron ore and coal. Which is great on the one hand. But it has made us lazy. In our thinking and our planning.

That reliance is now being challenged from various directions. Climate change. China. Digital disruption. Recession. Unemployment. Trade wars. Real wars. Underemployment. The changing nature of work. And so on.

Short term. Mining will keep delivering the dollars, but we can’t waste the thinking space and acting space that mining provides.

We have to start planning for the future. And start acting now. Which needs me. It needs you. It needs all of us. We can do it.

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We must attack and defend at the same time.

Australia is being impacted on two fronts – by trade threats and digital disruption. 

Our reliance on selling one product “minerals” into one market “China” leaves us highly exposed. Relying too heavily on minerals, food and education as our major exports, leaves us vulnerable to political whims and fancies, trade wars and real wars – none of which are controllable by any Australian government.

And digital disruption has not gone away. The impact of over 20 disruptive technologies on jobs and businesses continues. We have barely yet woken up to the threat, let alone created any real strategies to deal with the impacts.

We have to defend our families, children, grandchildren, businesses and regions against trade threats AND digital disruption.

Which means - diversification - both in the creation of products and services, as well as in our overseas markets. 

Turnbull was right. We need an innovation nation. 

We already have the potential for an innovation nation. We are just not managing the resources we have - the innovators in our towns, cities and regions, in our schools, universities and TAFEs. In our brains, our eyes and our hands.

Selling dirt to China is not the only tool in the toolbox. 

We have many others. And we have to use them.

For we live in precarious times.

In Australia, it makes strategic sense to significantly increase the number of trade partners we engage with and to diversify production across a much wider range of products and services. We cannot afford to become captive to trading partners with a very different view of “shared value.” Selling just one big egg from one big basket.

We need to mitigate risk. Quickly.

According to Roy Morgan, unemployment in January 2019 was 9.7%, with another 8.3% of the workforce underemployed. So 18% of Australians are now either unemployed or underemployed. Roy Morgan measures real unemployment in Australia, not the perception of unemployment.

Currently, digital disruption and its impacts on jobs is viewed a bit like climate change. The impacts are off somewhere in the future. Which is correct. But that future is closer than you might think.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D printing, Augmented Reality, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Cloud services, BIM, GPS, 5G, Cryptocurrency, Cybersecurity, Drones, Digital Identity, Holochain, IP protection, Mobility, Nanotechnology, Robots, Solar and Battery Storage, Virtual Reality, Amazon, airbnb, Freelancer, Uber etc, not forgetting climate change and “fake news” all present threats to jobs in Australia and across the world, as well as opportunity.

And jobs do not exist in a vacuum.

Employers offer jobs. And employers make people redundant. And big businesses answer to shareholders wanting profit. And small businesses have to pay wages.

And the current myth that employers won’t replace people with technology, but will retain workers and just reallocate tasks is just a wish and a dream. The reality is that technology comes in the door and people go out.

Even in organisations that have more than enough money to redeploy people if they choose to, such as banks – they don’t. The ANZ has cut 5,250 employees. The National Australia Bank has retrenched 6,000 employees.

The big four banks in Australia are expected to shed up to 40,000 jobs over five years. Some new jobs in technology and analytics will be created, but overall it’s net job loss. Telstra is cutting 8,000 jobs. Optus is cutting 400. And so on.

So even in companies with big profits, people are not being redeployed, they are being unemployed.

This trend will continue.

And in the next ten to fifteen years, another 4.5 million jobs will be threatened as AI and other technologies really take hold. Which for our children and grandchildren in Australian schools is going to be a big challenge.

So we need to start understanding, managing and pushing back against this threat, before it becomes a promise. 

Youth unemployment is a problem. “Over 40 years old” unemployment is a problem. Job transition is a problem. 


We have an abundance of productive industries in Australia. And an abundance of resources. We have the capacity to reframe what we do and where we focus our efforts. We have a world-class innovation engine in CSIRO/Data61 and our universities. 


We can add value to products and services through research, design, branding and marketing. But we have to start with a “big picture” vision, joining the pieces of the puzzle. Bringing it all together.

The opportunity is there in front of us. “We are a big country, with a small population but we are ratshit at collaboration.” Only by collaborating and showcasing what we (Australia) can offer to the world will we be successful.

The tools and solutions are on the table. We just need to pick them up and use them.

And…a lot of people are going to miss out. Even more than before.

Working with partners we must explore new options to address the issue of exclusion. 

Not everyone has the skills or capabilities to benefit from digital disruption. We need to establish a framework of opportunities that recognise individual contributions in different ways. We have to move our thinking beyond “effort = wage”, to Universal Basic Income, Tokenisation. Job creation. And what else?

Thinking about solutions to this issue has barely begun. But thinking has begun. It just needs to go further and faster.

There is still a lot more to be done. And we have hardly started. 

The RED Toolbox, the ED Toolbox and the Australian Innovation Showcase are tools to defend and attack trade threats and digital disruption.

Join the platform and let’s see what we can do. Collaboratively.

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Pandora’s box, algorithms and the future of work and jobs.

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In Greek myth, Pandora’s box was a divine gift, which on opening released strife, care, pride, hatred and despair into the world. The last thing remaining inside the box was hope.

Pandora was created to be curious and the urge to open the box overcame her. Zeus knew that her curiosity meant that she could not stop herself from opening the box, especially when he had told her that she must not do so.

Our curiosity has brought us to where we are today, with a wide range of tools at our fingertips, in the midst of a digital revolution, which connects us all.

As always, threat and opportunity stand side by side before us. Yet with hope and wisdom helping us to manage our choices, we have never had more opportunity to deal with the strife, care, pride, hatred and despair of the world.

But the opportunities come with challenges.

By working together, the challenges can be managed if we are able to move forward from the attitudes of the 20th Century world of conflict, separation and disconnection into a joined up, shared value and collaborative world.

And that competition between old world thinking and new world opportunity is being played out every day, in forums and meeting places across the planet.

The technologies of communication, connection and collaboration continue to join up individuals, companies, regions and countries across the planet, pushing us in one direction only – towards association and fellowship.

And the technologies also magnify the “power of one”, offering all individuals the additional power of “shared value” and collaboration.

If you are not familiar with shared value, watch Michael Porter, Harvard Business School - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jesEa_-Pgp8

Professor Porter has been promoting the concept of shared value since 2011, and the lights are finally going on.

What role should business have in society? In a joined up world, business can no longer just do its old thing. It has to do a new thing. It has to accept, contribute to and reinforce its position in support of every community and connected region, state, country and society.

To help fix and improve things. To find better ways to do things. To differentiate itself from other businesses. To create and deliver strategy. And to make profit.

We can transform separation into collaboration, and selfishness into sharing. The digital revolution is joining everything up. We just need to align our minds and our actions with the new opportunity. Which will take time.

But every day, there is more connection, collaboration and integration of devices and networks, and ultimately the human beings that use them.


From a personal perspective, we are all the result of an algorithm – DNA, the organising principle that transforms spacedust (elements) into a living organism at the beginning of every individual human life and back into dust again at the end.

An algorithm is simply a set of rules that defines a sequence of operations. In a computer system, it is the logic written by software developers to produce an output from a given input.

All of our algorithms are created with intention (whatever that might be), and they are becoming increasingly useful in the digital revolution as the cost of storage decreases, the speed of processing increases and more and more devices across the planet are connected in multiple ways.

We have been “human” for about 200,000 years, a relatively short period in the 3.8 billion year history of life on the Earth.

Which itself, is about a third of the time since the Big Bang, which gave rise to the universe 13.8 billion years ago and created all the spacedust that ultimately led to me, you and the rest of us, through the mechanism of DNA, an algorithm which originated as a replication mechanism sometime late in early life history.

A long time ago. The sophistication and elegance of DNA is apparent. It is mapped, decoded and studied in laboratories across the world. We have a personal interest in DNA.

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Because one end result of all that evolutionary trialing and testing of different options was homo sapiens - humankind with our special range of capacities – physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual – that make us different from the rest of life on the planet. Which has all been programmed through multiple variations of DNA replication to give us the amazing world we live in.

And here we sit, in 2018 with a growing capacity (through the digital revolution) to use our collective intelligence to do stuff. Including creating increasingly sophisticated algorithms of our own. Not as sophisticated as DNA. But you have to start somewhere.

So what are we doing with our algorithms? What is our creative vision? Mainly profiling, ordering and ranking.

Each year, Google changes its search algorithm about 500 times to rank and order websites in search engine results. Facebook uses its algorithm to prioritise content in News Feeds, based on comments and likes, shares and your profile.

Instagram uses its algorithm to create a feed based on past behaviour. Twitter uses its algorithm to present content based on accounts you interact with and tweets you engage with. And Linkedin uses its algorithm to present content based on likes, views and shares.

All of these platforms use content to attract customers, but they don’t create it themselves. So content creators are encouraged and rewarded with higher rankings, more approvals and relevance to other users. Attractive and relevant content generates more visits and views, which then creates an environment for sales messages of various kinds. The platforms then use the customer profiles generated by the algorithms above, and match them with product and service messages and advertisements. To make money.

But it is not just social media platforms that use algorithms and profiles.

Businesses and organisations of all kinds create profiles and use algorithms to improve customer relationships, and increase the accuracy of leads generation and prediction. About a third of finance tasks in corporates are already done by algorithms and robots, with more to come.

Data sources based on customer profile and history are combined with other datasets to generate a wider view of the customer. And government departments across the world are now doing the same thing as business. In some cases taking this to an extreme.

In China, the “Social Credit” system has been introduced for command and control. Think George Orwell’s novel 1984 and you get the idea.

Worried by the prospect of wider social unrest after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, the government was concerned about the country’s future.

Twenty years on, the Chinese government has solved that problem through the use of profiling, facial recognition software, and algorithms standardising an assessment of citizen and business, and generating economic and social reputation or “credit”.

Align this capability with the widespread adoption and use of electronic payment systems for buying goods and services and control becomes absolute. If you can’t accept money, buy or pay for stuff, you are somewhat knackered.

The government can reward or punish according to algorithms. The ability to work, the ability to pay for products and services can all be controlled. And an individual’s rating can be connected to the rating of family, friends and associates, allowing not just individuals but also associates to be blacklisted and denied access to services of all kinds, at the whim of government.

So the power of social disapproval can be brought to bear as well. This would be an impressive scenario in a science fiction story. But this is the real world.

By 2020, or soon after, health, location, insurance, private messages, financial status, payment history, political activity, preferred newspapers, shopping history and dating behaviour will be included within the system.

The Social Credit system will be limited to Mainland China. So they say. We’ll see how long it takes before Hong Kong is included.

Which drags all citizens and businesses in Australia and elsewhere into the world of Geopolitics. It is no longer enough just to know about producing goods and services. We all now need a more refined understanding of the geopolitics of the interconnected, international environment we now operate in.

And this Pandora’s Box of new threat and opportunity is not limited to one country alone.

It will affect all countries in different ways. And organisations of all shapes and sizes have to understand the many dimensions to digital change – both within the business and across all external relationships.

So we need to think more deeply about whom we are engaging with. Which businesses. Which organisations and which countries.

The NSA has been hovering up data from multiple databases and data sources for years. Edward Snowden highlighted some of the activities the American and British spy agencies are involved with, when he became a “whistle blower” in 2013, leaking insights on NSA and GCHQ activities to the world at large.

As a result, we are all now more aware of surveillance and data gathering activities, and even more aware that privacy is a fiction, that cannot be protected. Which depends of course, on whom we are protecting our privacy from.

Treat everything as though it is on a post card and you won’t be surprised.

The Patriot Act and Freedom Act powers are wide ranging and allow the FBI to request information from American citizens anywhere in the world, working for any organisation, and then demand they not let anybody know they provided information, or tell anybody that anything had even happened.

And the USA is one of our friends, a country with similar values to our own. One of the “Five Eyes” countries that share intelligence on a regular basis.

The Social Credit system of course now offers China the same opportunity to demand information from its citizens and diaspora anywhere on the planet, but leveraged in a different way.

The Chinese diaspora of 50 million Chinese is spread across the world, and the Social Credit system provides the leverage to request “help” and “information” from individuals anywhere at any time. “We would like your help with XXX. Help us and your family will be rewarded with credit.” And you can all work out what the opposing proposition might be.

Not saying that this will happen. But once Pandora’s box is open...

And when you consider the growing range of activities engaged in by the Chinese government including terraforming reefs and sandbars, hundreds of miles from home, then it is obvious that we should consider Australia’s future and our business and national relationships carefully.

If we are going to engage more actively with the world, we need to be confident about the nature and objectives of all the countries and businesses we engage with. Legal systems only offer limited protection. What are the values of the organisations and the countries we are engaging with? Do they match our own?

Luckily, at this time we export mainly iron ore, coal, wool, wood, meat, copper, other minerals, food and drink. Not a lot of intellectual property going out the door.

But as we diversify and focus on adding value to our productive industries through research, design and branding, we have to become more careful in all our trade relations, because we are now dealing with countries with a different attitude to property and theft than we have.

Profiling, algorithms, data processing, trade and customer engagement have all evolved. But our legal systems and enforcement haven’t kept pace with the speed of change. So in the absence of reliable international law with enforceable rules and regulations, we need to treat this new environment like the “wild west”. Be cautious and aware, and tread carefully.

For Australia, it would make strategic sense to widen significantly the number of trade partners we engage with and to diversify production across a wider range of products and services. We cannot afford to become captive to trading partners with a very different view of “shared value.”

We need to mitigate risk. Quickly.

Profiling, facial recognition software, and algorithms linked together are a powerful combination. And will become even more powerful as the years progress. Add weaponry to that mix and science fiction becomes a new reality.


That’s the potential downside of where we are heading. The upside is the option of using profiling, algorithms and data processing for positive change.

But we need to learn a lesson from the algorithm of our DNA, and widen our perspective in creating solutions to incorporate more human dimensions to measure success.

Can we call a city a “smart city” if it only offers physical solutions like smart parking, traffic lights, water meters and dog licensing. Maybe “smart” is too boastful a description. Autonomic may be more accurate.

Can we incorporate all human dimensions into the creation of smart cities – physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual?

Is a smart city smart if it has homeless people on the streets? Is a smart city smart if it has hundreds of ageing individuals living in isolation, loneliness and desperation? Is a smart city smart if it doesn’t design “common – unity” (community) into its architecture and town planning?

We have to design humancentric cities not infrastructure centric cities.

Put the human being at the centre of a living system and everything changes. Put the human at the centre of an education system and everything changes. Put the human at the centre of a health system and everything changes. Currently, the systems in all cases process human beings like an assembly line. 20th century thinking – conveyor belt, not 21st century thinking – wholism.

Design thinking and human centered solutions shift the thinking. Innovation comes from the grassroots and edges. Without participation at every stage from design to ongoing engagement, there is no smart city.

https://theredtoolbox.org/ff3f7afe-8585-4a3d-b7d3-cba6960be563" alt="page6image19272" width="396.000000" height="14.159970">

Technology now exists to create autonomous weapons that can select and kill

https://theredtoolbox.org/42b44040-63ec-441a-8a28-a2d4526c502d" alt="page6image20320" width="406.800000" height="14.159970">

human targets without supervision. For an idea of what that might mean, watch

https://theredtoolbox.org/44e92b10-355c-4163-a7ff-149afb8fed27" alt="page6image21408" width="272.160000" height="0.239990">

And we have to move beyond “That’s not the job of the council” or “That’s not the job of this department” to a more holistic way of thinking. And inclusion. Because, that is the job of every human being. We are holistic.

We can’t compartmentalise everything. And deal with all issues separately, as though they were not connected in some way. We have to recognise and respond to the interconnected nature of the world we live in and plan accordingly.

Chinese walls are no longer Chinese walls (If they ever were). Conflicts of interest need dealing with not by virtual separation, but by actual separation. Or by collaboration and shared value.

Just like the concept of de-identification of personal data, some ideas no longer have any practical value. Re-identification of personal data is now so easy, due to access to data sources, algorithms and processing power that individuals need to make decisions about their own personal data regardless of promises of privacy.

Treat everything as though it is on a post card and you won’t be surprised.

This raises the issue of who should own personal data anyway, and how management of personal data should be conducted. Blockchain provides a mechanism for decision making to be managed directly by individual citizens, through the creation of an encrypted individual personal identity passport.

In time, individuals can then make decisions about personal data and how it should be used, that will no longer rely on government, banks, insurance and medical companies to act as trust broker. Individuals will be able to manage these relationships through “smart contracts” embedded in blockchain, distributed ledger networks.

Our technology is increasingly interconnected. But we are responsible for creating the software tools and algorithms that we all use. They don’t create themselves.

Is the imagination and vision for the software development and algorithms the best it could be? As visionary as it could be? As creative as it could be?

The limits are ours. What we do with the new tools requires “big, interconnected picture” thinking.

We can define the scope. Telescope – far seeing. Or microscope – small seeing. And then use the data to achieve new things.

According to Roy Morgan, unemployment in August was 11%, with another 8% of the workforce underemployed, whereas the ABS puts it at 5.3%. The ABS deems that if somebody has worked for only one hour a week then they are employed. Which isn’t helpful.

Roy Morgan measures real unemployment in Australia, not the perception of unemployment. But the ABS figures are more politically acceptable. It is as simple as that. All governments manipulate their statistics for the public.

Which may make sense in the short term, but really doesn’t help if we are seriously going to address the problem of jobs.

Currently, digital disruption and its impacts on jobs is viewed a bit like climate change. The impacts are off somewhere in the future. Which is correct. But that future is closer than you might think.

But jobs do not exist in a vacuum.

Employers offer jobs. And employers make people redundant. And big businesses answer to shareholders wanting profit. And small businesses have to pay wages.

And the current myth that employers won’t replace people with technology, but will retain workers and just reallocate tasks is just a wish and a dream. The reality is that technology comes in the door and people go out.

Even in organisations that have more than enough money to redeploy people if they choose to, such as banks – they don’t. The ANZ has cut 5,250 employees. The National Australia Bank has retrenched 6,000 employees.

The big four banks in Australia are expected to shed up to 40,000 jobs in all over five years. Some new jobs in technology and analytics will be created, but overall it’s net job loss. Telstra is cutting 8,000 jobs. Optus is cutting 400. And so on.

So even in companies with big profits, people are not being redeployed they are being unemployed.

This trend will continue.

In the next three to five years we will see the first 1.5 million Australian jobs under threat, in financial services, retail, wholesale, rental and real estate, administration and support. As well as some categories in professional services and health.

And in the next ten to fifteen years, another 4.5 million jobs will be threatened as AI really takes hold. Which for our children and grandchildren in Australian schools is going to be a challenge.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D printing, Augmented Reality, Internet of Things,

Blockchain, Cloud services, BIM, GPS, 5G, Cryptocurrency, Cybersecurity, Drones,

Digital Identity, IP protection, Mobility, Nanotechnology, Robots, Solar and

Battery Storage, Virtual Reality, Amazon, airbnb, Freelancer, Uber etc, not

forgetting climate change and “fake news” all present threats to jobs in Australia

and across the world, as well as opportunity.

So we need to start understanding, managing and pushing back against this threat, before it becomes a promise.

There is a lot we can do, but we have to start with an honest appraisal of the marketplace and workplace environment. Youth unemployment is a problem. Over 40 years old unemployment is a problem. Job transition is a problem.

We have an abundance of productive industries in Australia. An abundance of resources. We have the capacity to reframe what we do and where we focus our efforts. We have a world-class innovation engine in CSIRO/Data61 and our universities.

We can add value to products and services through our research, design, branding and marketing. But we have to start by having a “big picture” vision, joining the pieces of the puzzle. Bringing it all together.

The opportunity is there in front of us. “We are a big country, with a small population and we are ratshit at collaboration.” Only by collaborating and showcasing what we (Australia) can offer to the world will we be successful.

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Regional creativity is where the future begins.

In the past thirty years Geoffrey Dening has filled many roles, as an entertainer, sportsman and professional business man.

After a decade in Local Government Administration, I left the office for the Gold Mining industry in 1990's. With a fine tuned understanding of the diversity of people around him and an Australia Day Young Citizen's Award for leadership. Embarked on an adventurous career, managing artists and performing stand-up comedy. At the same time founding a publishing enterprise, launching sport art and literary magazines up until 1998.

In the build up to the Millennium, Geoffrey noticed the hubbub around the change over and the electronic shift in society. The time was near for his next career shift, which began with two years sitting in a room surfing through the internet. In 2008 his YouTube channel was one of the first 2500 in Australia qualified for advertising by Google. As well as having his recordings on iTunes and Amazon and other online download sites.

Since 2016 as Vice Chairman in the Robe Traders Association, Geoffrey has spear headed the team welcoming 4 major Chinese delegations, including CCTV2 “Central China TV” and state run TV network of Xiamen media. Whilst perfecting his golf obsession.

The idea for Travel Apps came from seeing what people were doing, by a person who was there to make their travelling experience comfortable and enjoyable.
After setting up and developing a successful Bed and Breakfast accommodation business in 2012, the close association with my guests gave me invaluable insight into their needs as travelers. With 80% of my guests international travelers, the need for information on places to go and things to do was a regular verbal service that I supplied. This gave me the insight on the format and structure to develop Travel Apps for use by travelers and residents. 
I had the knowledge and capability to develop the apps. I was looking for a new career change and the excitement of creating a new thing, was all it took to leap into action.

I live 120 km away from the nearest urban centre in a town of 1200 people. Mornings are productivity time, meeting customers, planning marketing strategy and sales programming. There is a lot of solitude in my business operation by location and philosophy, I am there to do a job not have a social event. The key with keeping fresh is for me playing golf or going to the gym to break up the day mid afternoon. That is the beauty of living in a rural location, I walk out the door into a comfortable environment still able to focus on my work day. Then return a couple of hours later refreshed to do more.

Australia is a young nation, 229 years old. The tyranny of distance was a blessing. Geographic isolation made it nescessary to have inspired creativity to improve the quality of life. The Stump Jump plough 1877, in 1889, Australian electrical engineer Arthur James Arnot patented the world's first electric drill with his colleague William Brain, doctor Mark Lidwill and physicist Edgar Booth developed the first artificial pacemaker in the 1920s, the Hills hoist manufactured in Adelaide, South Australia by Lance Hill since 1945, in 1992 John O' Sullivan and the CSIRO developed Wi-Fi technology, and in 2006, Brisbane-based medical researchers Professor Ian Frazer and Dr Jian Zhou developed the world's first anti-cancer vaccine.

That is a national snapshot of only a few amazing Australian creations that today the world could not imagine going without. We need to be active, engaging to counter negativity from the Luddites. I choose to make a stand, then continue merrily on my way. When I step out of the Luddites self constructed goldfish bowls, the positive atmosphere that engages me is this industry. It is not bemusing, it is not confusing, it is fun and I do it for a job. 

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“Jobs lost, jobs gained? Don’t’ worry, it’s ok”. Well, it’s not ok.

On reading the McKinsey "Jobs lost, jobs gained" report again, it is easy to see how traditional economists just don't understand what is happening re the jobs impacts of digital disruption. 

Throughout the report, the McKinsey team continually reach back into history for reasons why the current changes will be just like before.

Which is "Maginot line" thinking. 

Because, new technology nearly always changes the apparent learnings from history. 

Before the second world war, Guderian and a few others understood that the tank and the "jerry can" (the ability to refuel reliably on the run) would change everything supposedly learned from the fixed line, trench warfare, catastrophe of the first world war. 

His thinking was not accepted by his superiors, so he went ahead and proved them wrong anyway. And the Maginot line – the result of all the French General staff learnings from the first world war proved irrelevant. Wrong place. The battle was fought elsewhere.

It was the same with the machine gun before the first world war. Cavalry and infantry proved useless against knee height scythes of bullets. The new automated technology created radical change in the operational environment = the battlefield, and everything supposedly learned from history proved irrelevant. New conditions.

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The Eurobodalla Shire in NSW – opportunity to resurrect the cut flower industry?

The Eurobodalla Shire has a population approaching 40,000 and is firmly within the orbit of Canberra. The main towns are Bateman’s Bay, Moruya and Narooma.

There are 60-70 food producers in this area, but most are locally or domestically focused. There is a medium-term possibility that some could develop an export focus. The River Cottage TV show filmed at Tillba (showing in 16 nations) could assist the process.

Eurobodalla Council has big plans for Moruya Airport as a road/air freight hub. This could develop into a logistics hub viz. seafood, dairy etc.

The particular competitive advantage of the region is its good soils, rainfall and coolish climate.

In this context, cut flowers is a potentially significant industry. Indeed it would fit well with increasingly sophisticated global markets and the gourmet product emphasis of the region.

There used to be 15 flowers growers in the area, and one used to export to Japan and France. The numbers have dwindled mainly because the growers were hobby farmers and not committed to long-term operations, which require scale of the order of 5 acres.

The cut flower industry is also seasonal and margins are tight, which makes it difficult to achieve regular revenue streams. In this regard there is potential to high value-add horticultural products on the same farms in order to broaden revenue streams.

Currently there are only 4-5 cut flower growers in the Eurobodalla council area. The biggest and best of these is Protea Patch, west of Broulee. It has been growing proteas and Australian natives since 1986.  It supplies flowers to retail florists and wholesalers, and we would like to assist its growth aspirations.

There is also an opportunity to attract hard-working business migrants to his industry in order to inject cash and labour into the industry, and to emulate other regions successfully exporting cut flowers, such as the Barossa, Mid North Coast, Gippsland etc.

Prepared by the Cockatoo Network, Canberra.

Please contact us to collaborate in this region. apdcockatoo@iprimus.com.au OR phone 0412 922559.

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A great article from Westpac

"As the colossal transformation in Australia’s disability care sector starts to take hold, the traditional service model is being turned on its head in a massive shakeup that’s also creating opportunities for new innovative players". A great article from Westpac at .... https://www.westpac.com.au/news/in-depth/2017/12/ndis-underway-where-are-the-tech-innovators/

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John Sheridan
It's worrying that the Productivity Commission states that the "quality, quantity and responsiveness" of disability services provi... Read More
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 07:22
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Let’s make our problems disappear (not just our jobs)

Jobs are disappearing. Skills demands have changed. Wages have stagnated. Digital disruption is impacting every sector, region and business category. Businesses are disappearing. Industry sectors are under threat. The changes are happening fast. Our leaders have lost touch. Tied to election cycles – short term - when the solutions we need are long term. No direction. We are educating for a world that has gone. We are hocked to the eyeballs. Inequality = 1%. And we are focusing on trivia not the elephants in the room.

Lots of problems that are all connected. And we can’t fix one properly without fixing the others at the same time.

First problem is that most people either don’t understand or appreciate the scale and scope of the above. And we don’t have the time to wait for them to catch up.

While we talk and explain, and strategise and plan, we also have to engage in action. We don’t have the luxury of time for consideration. We’ve done that.

It is now time for launch and learn. Not learn and launch.

“Think tanks” are fine. But “do tanks” are finest.

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What is the digital revolution doing to jobs?

For the last few weeks I have been working on a spreadsheet of 503 ANZSIC business categories across all industry sectors looking at which sectors and categories are hardest hit by digital disruption – now and over the next few years.

I was inspired to have a closer look at each individual business category, because of the many posts about future of work and jobs. Which tend to be selective, highlighting either the best or worst outcomes in different industries.

And because of the 50,000 surveys we have conducted on adoption and use of ICT across all business categories, we had some insights that might prove useful in this endeavour. Should anybody want to discuss this in more depth, just contact me.

The impacts of digital disruption are spread widely across all industry sectors not just some sectors. There is threat and opportunity in all industries.

No industry sector is immune, but impacts are not equally shared across all the categories in a business sector.  

So Car retail, Domestic Appliance retail, Recorded Music retail, Book etc are more threatened than Liquor retail, Specialty Food, Swimming Pools and Spas and so on.

The more variability and specialty there is in a business category - the more protection from disruption. The more uniformity, repetition and prepackaging in a business category - the less protection. But no category enjoys full protection.

No industry sector or category is spared. All sectors and categories can be threatened and/or improved in some way.

Threat and opportunity often run side by side – ie high threat, but also high opportunity.

Most of us already understand this dual nature of threat and opportunity, because we have seen the impacts in action over the last twenty years as a range of industry sectors or business categories have met with disruption and change – music, postal, video, real estate, accommodation, TV, newspapers, printing, travel, retail, aged care, insurance, law, taxis, finance, training, education, government, associations, politicians and on it goes.

This disruption isn’t stopping or slowing down. And in many sectors and categories it has barely begun.

Even in sectors and categories where the news is good – where there is mainly digital opportunity not threat – there is a consistent downside.

Loss of jobs.

For example, automation, robotisation and software deliver enormous benefits to agriculture and mining, but at the expense of jobs. The robots, software and automated processes remove the need for lots of people. And the new job options established to support and manage the technologies demand fewer people.

With often different skills and capabilities.

Result. The organisation invests in the technology. The organisation saves on payroll. The organisation then employs fewer people with different skills.

So digital improves productivity, profitability and efficiency, but destroys jobs.

Which is good news and bad news, depending on who you are, what you do and your point of view.

So will it be 47% of jobs destroyed over the next ten years as the 2013 Oxford University report suggests?

The problem is the number of people performing the jobs that are being eliminated. And because it is now 4 years since that report emerged and the technology has proliferated, innovated and improved, the percentage is now likely to be larger.

More innovation. More software. More adoption. More use. More impact. On both jobs and the workers in those jobs.

With more to come.

At the moment we are hiding many of the impacts of digital disruption by the shifting of full time employment into contract, part time, freelance and occasional work, with the REAL employment and underemployment figures hidden for political reasons. In all countries, not just Australia.

We don’t seem prepared to look the digital revolution “gift horse in the mouth”. For it has enormous, but sharp and carnivorous teeth. Not what we expected at all.

And we can’t begin to address the problem unless we accept the problem exists in the first place.

Nearly 20% of our working population is now looking for work or for more work. There are currently not enough jobs. There are not enough well paid jobs.

Contract work, part time, freelance and occasional work produces less income. Generates less tax. Wage growth is flat. Less income leads to more borrowing and greater household debt. The condition we find ourselves in today.

And the continual elimination of jobs through software, robots and automation is remorseless. It is slow, but remorseless.

Many businesses that could replace workers are not doing so. For now.

Many businesses, households and individuals that banks could bankrupt are still operational. Given leeway and time. For now.

The can is kicked down the road. Hoping the problem will fix itself over time.

It won’t.

This issue needs managing.

Businesses and banks (and central banks) and politicians have woken up to the bigger picture. Push too hard or too fast and the whole house of cards tumbles.

However that doesn’t stop the digital revolution. It merely cushions some of its immediate blows. For now.

And the cost of software, automation and robots will continue to fall and the job-cost equation will become more persuasive.

Persuasive to those, who believe that business is just business. To those who believe that shareholders are the only partners in profit and loss. To those who don’t accept there is a social contract in all business, if there is to be economic sustainability. And a future for our children.

The real issue isn't actually about the future of jobs. It is about the future of organisations that employ people - i.e. organisations that offer jobs.

If these organisations disappear or are forced out of existence through digital disruption and/or digital opportunity, then the associated jobs disappear at the same time. Along with the associated income. The ability to manage debt load. To pay mortgages. To buy products and services. To keep the show on the road.

Both digital threat and digital opportunity reduce the need for workforce.

Digital threat destroys jobs. Uber, Amazon, Alibaba, Google, AirBnB etc all destroy jobs.

Digital opportunity destroys jobs. Robots, software and automation destroy jobs.

Digital threat and opportunity also destroy business categories and even industry sectors. This has happened throughout history but never so fast or across so many sectors at the same time.

It's not about "if" it is only about "when". And we still do have the ability to influence timing. Though that is about all.

What is the ultimate destination of this change? Where is this revolution heading?

It is heading towards a degree of unemployment and underemployment, such as we have never seen in our lifetimes.

Which inevitably leads towards a conversation about Universal Basic Income. UBI.

Dole. Pension. Unemployment Benefits. Newstart. Old start. Allowances. Call them what you will, they are all taxpayer funded payments of some kind.

UBI will have to be funded by taxation. We will have to revisit taxing the job destroyers who mainly benefit from this revolution. The multinational corporations and software companies, the robot makers and the automators will have to pay tax on the income they receive in the country where that income is generated. No revenue shifting.

Multinationals are the primary organisations to profit from this enormous societal change in the short term. But to what end?

Because we need to have a population with enough money to buy things or we will really have a problem. We are already beginning to see more of our population moving into poverty. Pensioners, the disabled and benefit receivers of all kinds. Under financial stress. On the streets. Living in cars. Caravans. Sofas.

They will soon be joined by more of the bankrupted, the debtridden, the beaten and defeated.

We are already experimenting with UBI in this country. Paying people who do not generate wealth from the government purse – at both ends of the spectrum.

We have the low paid on government paid, taxpayer funded subsidies, pensions and grants channeled through Centrelink.

And we have the well paid on government paid, taxpayer funded wages in local, state and federal government.

Both on UBI, but we don’t call it that yet. Non-wealth generators and producers. You could even argue that banks fall into that same category, especially when they neglect to lend to the productive industries and businesses that generate wealth.

The money to pay UBI comes from taxes.

But as tax paying businesses and organisations disappear, and ever more people lose jobs and desperately seek more work, taxable income will fall.

And we can't build enough prisons or expand the police force enough to manage half a population out of work...


It is time to understand the full impacts of technological change. Personally.

CEOs and boards need to wake up to digital threat and opportunity and not abdicate that responsibility to CIOs.

The threat to our society is greater than the threat from terrorism. We need to marshal our resources accordingly.

It is time to consider what a job is anyway. What is the purpose? What is the reason for getting up in the morning? Is it just about reward? Identity? Place in society? Self respect?

We need to redefine what work is and quickly. In relation to the world we live in today, not the 1950s. We have a conveyor belt of young students entering the workforce every year. They need to know.

It’s not enough for a CEO to decide to adopt a new software package, train staff and let one or two admin people go. Without thinking about what that means to them, as well as the bottom line.

It’s not enough to shift permanent staff onto contracts, outsource work to India, or the Philippines without thinking what that means beyond profit and loss.

And what that means to the suburb, the street, the region and the state, as more and more people join the permanently unemployed on the scrapheap.

How to do we educate children for this new condition? What do we tell them?

Not every young person can start a business.

What does the future offer to children leaving school and moving into permanent “no job, no experience, no hope, no future” land?

We are not managing this transition well.

Incubators and Workhubs are part of the solution. Vocational training and smart trades are part of the solution, but there is a lot more to discuss.

Inequality has become a public issue again. And digital revolution just magnifies inequity and what is already broken.

Given that 8 men now own the same wealth as half the world’s population, or the top 10% of the population now own 85% of the world’s wealth.

“World leaders are concerned”. But concern has not yet translated into action. Big businesses and the super rich dodge taxes, use their power to influence politics and drive down wages. And 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day.

So is it really surprising that individuals and families now travel the planet seeking something better? It all joins up.

In Australia we have small insects called termites. Lots of them. They eat wood. And I have lived in houses where everything looked fine, until one day the door fell off, held in place only by a thin skin of gloss paint.

Which is pretty much the current status of our economy in Australia. A thin skin of gloss paint.

An economy held in place by continuing demand for coal and iron ore (threatened), fake employment and underemployment figures, and conditional blindness to the extent of digital disruption and its impacts (by CEOs and boards).

Looks solid. Isn’t.

Rising inequality is becoming a problem across the world, not just here in Australia. Unemployment and underemployment in Australia is now 17.9% or 2.402 million people in Australia looking for work or for more work.

Inequality in Australia has risen over the past generation. And we have all noticed. When wealth is concentrated among a small group of people it increases demand for luxury goods by that very small group of people.

When incomes are more equal and widespread, people who are less well off buy more things – right across the board. Which expands the overall market and inspires companies to create things to sell.

When people carry large household debt burdens they can’t afford to buy more than the essentials and market demand shrinks. It also prevents poor people from reaching their potential in education and invention.

Then everybody becomes poorer.

Household debt. Through the roof.

Unaffordable housing.

More people on the streets and in the soup kitchens.

Moribund wage growth (for most of us).

Time to wake up.

We need to discuss what a job is and how it is rewarded. How to provide useful activity in society for people with skills and rewards matched to “brain”, “eye” and “hand”. How do we value manufacture? How do we reward effort?

UBI is a conversation we have to have.

In banks where competitive risk is diminished by “too big to fail” government bail out reassurances, should the CEO be paid more than 10 times the lowest paid worker?

What returns and rewards are appropriate in public companies? Private companies are private, and on the whole risk and reward are far better matched.

But senior management in government, quangos, banks and utilities can rarely justify the salaries that are paid today. These salaries and bonuses are a contrivance of boards populated with lawyers, directors and accountants, a throwback to the last century.

And the majority of the population sits outside looking in and sees it for what it is. A closed circle of colleagues and business associates handing cash to each other – board to CEO, CEO to board – in a perverted game of musical chairs, where the chairs never get removed.

These issues need discussion in public forums. Especially when it is taxes paying the salaries.

We all need to get engaged with the big picture issues.

We all face the same problems. So let’s see what we can do about them.

Two issues.

How do we use digital technology to support productive industries in Australia – agriculture, creative industry, defence, manufacturing, medical and health, METS, smart trades and tourism – with skills, export, R&D and collaboration?

How do we mitigate the negative impacts of digital disruption and its role in job destruction – applying the brake, discussing UBI, role of work, inequality, vision and collaboration?

We need to work on both issues at the same time. Collectively.

For our part, we have built a number of platforms to help.

To enable collaboration and discussion around common economic themes – productive industries, export, future of work and jobs, knowledge sharing, projects and collaboration.

We need to build up and improve the economic base for jobs, sustainable regions and collaboration in Australia = the RED Toolbox.

See http://theredtoolbox.org

The RED toolbox is a collaboration platform for regions, RDAs, councils and other organisations to share insights, ideas and activities. So if you aren’t already a partner, then become one.

We also need to build relationships and networks with overseas markets, connecting Australian producers and services with major markets overseas and businesses and communities within those markets = the EXPORT Toolbox.

See http://exporttoolbox.org

We have some remarkable businesses in Australia and they deserve exposure and promotion to markets across the planet. And that is what the EXPORT Toolbox is about.

On the one hand the digital revolution brings threat and disruption and there is little we can do about that except perhaps to slow things down while we consider what that means, as Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk suggest.

And on the other hand the digital revolution brings opportunity. Ask any of the software developers, hardware producers and ICT startups and they will explain what that means to them.

But an even bigger opportunity in the digital revolution is in the new territory of collaboration.

The Toolboxes are collaborative platforms and slowly and steadily they are evolving, based on what partners say they want, on what partners are deciding to do, and on what partners suggest might be possible.

“Can we showcase business from our region to our sister city in Korea? Yes.

“Can we establish a “sister cities” group so that our local businesses can converse with “sister cities” businesses in Hyderabad?” Yes.

“Can we establish a food cluster?” Yes.

“Can we discuss the implications of our ageing population and how to manage it with organisations in Taiwan?” Yes.

“Can we document our circular economy project so it can be shared with other councils in Australia?” Yes.

“Can we create a group to discuss the future of work and jobs?” Yes.

Where next? You tell us.

Because it is not the platforms, it is the people that decide.

This is an organic process. Some things grow faster than others. And the process is more akin to gardening than architecture.

So let’s get into the garden and start gardening.

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Sam Leon
John is concerned about Australia - jobs, exports, collaboration. Well done mate
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 13:58
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Not your grandmother’s revolution. The digital revolution is new.

We are in a time of incredible change. Though when I look out the window, the sky is still blue, the sun is still shining and my hands are still cold. Queensland winter.

It doesn’t look any different outside. The Magpies are warbling away. The digital revolution isn’t impacting them at all.  Just me. And my neighbours next door and across the road. And the rest of the people in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and the world.

The digital revolution is just shifting the foundations of the planet for the rest of us. Not at a physical level (though it has something to say there), but at every other societal level you can think of.

Revolutions are revolutionary.  Wikipedia - A fundamental change in organisational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time, when the population rises up against current authorities.

In our case, the revolutionary change in organisational structures is being created by technology connecting up, not by the population rising up.

The digital revolution is happening stealthily, through wires and wireless, through “1”s and “0”s, through networks and connections, not through people marching on the streets, throwing bricks and bombs. Though that could yet happen if we continue to manage this revolution badly.

The digital revolution is happening quickly. In tens of years not hundreds. The changes it is forcing on society are wide reaching and fundamental. And we don’t know how to react, respond or legislate. We have never seen this before.

The revolution is happening at a very deep level.

The real impacts are happening far below all our Twitter accounts, Facebook, Instagram, Fox news, radio, newspapers and television.

The revolution is destroying jobs, it is enabling corruption and it is revealing corruption. It is extending multinational reach and influence. It is providing startups with a platform to take on the world.

It is magnifying and reinforcing whatever is good and whatever is bad in society.

It is asking questions that were never viable before. What is a job? What is money? What is a constituency? What are borders? What is politics? What is an education? What is going on?

This is not your mother’s revolution, or your grandfather’s. This is new.

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Startups, scaleups, productive industries and jobs

It seems obvious that we should be focussing our limited national resources and economic energy into supporting and enhancing our productive industries - the industries that can support jobs, pay higher wages, generate more exports, build a sustainable future and so on.

We are a rich country. But we need to manage that wealth of resources better than we do today.

We have extractive industries aplenty and a good job too...or we would be much worse off than we are.

Our productive industries - agriculture, creative industries, defence, ICT, manufacturing, medical and health, METS, smart trades and tourism can all be expanded, and value added to collectively create a sustainable platform for the future.

We have service industries though some of them do a very poor job servicing and supporting our productive industries eg - the banks that should be providing investment to SMEs don't, and are about to spend a heap of money telling us otherwise. Money they should be channelling into supporting productive industries.

And we have a small number of parasitic industries that extract wealth from wallets and purses rather than generate wealth and health for the country. You can work out who they are for yourselves.

Collectively these industry sectors employ everybody.

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About AIEA

My name is Mal Walker and I am the Founder and Chairman of the Australasian Interim Executive Association.

I have been operating a boutique Executive Search company (GreyHair Alchemy) since 2002. My speciality was (and is) senior executives who would be prepared to undertake an interim role; such as a three-month contract or three days a week.

Over many coffee meetings, my candidates often expressed a desire to meet other interim managers. Eventually, this led to the formation of the Australasian Interim Executive Association in 2013.

What is AIEA?

AIEA is a professional organisation for interim executives that are recognised for their practical, hands-on skills and a broad understanding of the total business environment. It’s like AHRI and AICD, but for hands-on Executives and Managers and most AIEA members are also members of other professional bodies.

AIEA is an industry/business body formed to represent executives and managers that are recognised for their practical, hands-on skills and a broad understanding of the total business environment.

  • Executives who want to meet and leverage off like-minded professionals
  • Executives who want a collective voice to represent them to government and industry
  • Executives who have a wealth of experience and don’t want to stop working
  • Executives who don’t need retraining, just a contract or a Board position
  • Executives who want their professional body to help them find their next paid assignment.

As a measure of their experience, 22% of our members are over 60, 19% are under 50 and the rest are in-between. They are right at the peak of their powers.

AIEA especially relates to executives who offer their services on an interim, contract, consultancy, FIFO or part-time basis, including NEDs.

Our primary focus is on helping AIEA members to find their next job. The AIEA-Jobs board delivers this. The candidates on AIEA-Jobs are exclusively AIEA members and posting a vacancy on the Job Board is available at no cost to business managers and recruiters who have a suitable role to fill. No recruitment fee to pay.

What I Like About My Job

By far, it is meeting and knowing the AIEA members. They are an extraordinary bunch of men and women who display their knowledge and expertise in so many ways. And it’s not just the members; the employers who are interested in harnessing their skills are generally of a similar level of professionalism. 

My Biggest Challenge

AIEA is a unique entity, as professional institutes go, and we’ve had to trail-blaze in so many areas. We launched a free jobs board for the members in 2016 and my current challenge is finding ways to make the potential employers aware of the AIEA talent pool. Being free to members and to employers, it must be run without a marketing budget.

What I am most proud of at AIEA  

Our members are Interim Managers, which means the mostly work from home when they are not on assignment. Being individuals, they appreciate the focus and identity that AIEA affords them. AIEA represents their interests in dealings with politicians, government authorities, employer groups and other business associations

Mal Walker mal@aiea.org.au Phone 1800 394 247

For more information visit www.aiea.org.au

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The rise of the gig economy

Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) found around 70% of Australians aged under 34 were open to using a digital platform (eg. Uber, Airtasker) to source income in the next year

Like other parts of the world, the G21 Region labour market is undergoing significant structural change due to new technologies and the decline in full-time work.  If the Region is to ensure that it has a robust labour market which is accessible to all, then it is important to gain a deeper understanding of the new economy and its impact on jobs.  

G21 region map

G21 Region map: http://www.g21.com.au/about-g21 

What is the gig economy?

Also termed the ‘collaborative economy’, the ‘sharing economy’ or the ‘on-demand economy’, the ‘gig economy’ describes the rise of non-traditional ways of working and providing goods and services that involve temporary, task-by-task forms of employment. Gig forms of employment are not necessarily new – for example, freelancing has been the predominant mode of employment in several industries for a long time - but the emergence of digital talent platforms, such as Uber, Airtasker and Deliveroo, has seen the creation of new markets and recruitment platforms.

According to some employer groups, the rise of the gig economy is being driven by workers who are expressing an increasing demand for autonomous and flexible work (Australian Industry Group 2016, p.5). Research by the McKinsey Global Institute suggests there are four key segments of ‘independent’ workers:

  • free agents, who actively choose independent work and derive their primary income from it;
  • casual earners, who use independent work for supplemental income and do so by choice;
  • reluctants, who make their primary living from independent work but would prefer traditional jobs; and
  • financially strapped, who do supplemental independent work out of necessity (McKinsey Global Institute 2016).

Four segments

How many people are employed in the gig economy?

No direct figures are available as yet for Australia, but figures from around the world can help paint a picture of how gig work has grown:

  • UK gig workforce is estimated at 4% of working adults (aged 18-70)
  • US data suggests 14-20% of all employed people engage in gig work
  • Almost 29% of jobs added post-GFC (2010-14) were attributed to an increase in the number of independent contractors
  • Data from the US & Europe combined suggests 20-30% of the working age population engage in some form of independent work
  • Of this group, 15% have used a digital recruiting platform
  • Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) found around 70% of Australians aged under 34 were open to using a digital platform (eg. Uber, Airtasker) to source income in the next year

Benefits of the gig economy

  • Autonomy
  • Accessibility
  • Flexible working hours
  • Complementary/supplementary income (to main income source)
  • Job creation through gig work can lead to a rise in the GDP

Risks of gig work

  • Inherently insecure and unpredictable
  • No guaranteed minimum income (if relying on gig work as your entire income source)
  • Employers have no obligation to provide education/training/equipment necessary to perform the role
  • Potential for rise in ‘zero hours’ contracts – exacerbating the existing problem of underemployment, which is a significant barrier for young people’s successful participation in the labour market.

Challenges of the gig economy

  • Legal classification of gig workers – are they independent contractors? Employees? Workers?
  • What rights do gig workers have to: minimum wage, unfair dismissal protections, holiday and sick pay, superannuation?
  • What pathways for support/redress are available to workers who feel they have been exploited?

Gigging is likely to be significant in the future of work. As we move further away from the standard employment relationship of a full-time permanent job, towards the model of the ‘portfolio career’, which can involve various combinations of part-time employment, self-employment, and other working arrangements, gig work is likely to be something that individuals dip in and out of across their working lives. The CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians, Jan Owen, maintains that ‘the increasingly flexible nature of the modern workforce will likely see a 15-year-old today navigating a portfolio of 17 jobs in 5 different industries’ (Owen 2017). If her predictions prove correct, then preparing young people for the reality of their future working lives will require a fundamental shift in the way we approach work, and the meanings and expectations we attach to it.

Geelong Region LLEN’s Expansive Learning Network will be hosting the first in a series of Events on the impact of the gig economy in the G21 region.  It will be held at Deakin Cats Community Centre, Simonds Stadium, Wednesday 16th August 9am-1pm.  Keep an eye on the website (http://www.grllen.com.au/news/grllen-events) and our social media for more details.

Edited extract from a paper prepared by Geelong Region LLEN labour market analyst and futurist, Dr. Jude Walker, and Geelong Region LLEN Researchers-in-Residence, Meave Noonan and Atticus Gray

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