The future of work is having a good job
Address to the Sydney Institute
4 April 2012
-- CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY --
My thanks to Gerard and Anne and the team here at the Sydney Institute for providing this platform for important democratic discussion.
It goes like this I think…
Where once you could go to work in the bank at fifteen, and retire from that same bank in that same town at sixty-five, this is no longer so.
Where once you might go to work in a bike shop at fourteen, and be at work in your own bike shop at eighty, this is no longer so.
Where once you could study Renaissance painting at uni, and be lecturing on it still on your own campus at 85, perhaps never having travelled to Europe, this, alas, is also an unlikely scenario.
The world has turned, and it will not turn back.
It is a world in which you can expect to have four jobs in a lifetime, and to live in six different houses in four different towns if you are lucky – and many, many more if you are not.
A world in which the 'factory floor' and the staff canteen, and greasy big machinery, and unofficial work stoppages, and picket lines, and year-long strikes in the mining towns, are part of the legend now, but not the future.
It's been a long road to change, but here we are.
In 1900 there were some 30,000 shearers in Australia.
And there were no personal trainers, not one.
And now, in 2012, there are 3,000 shearers.
And yet there are 86,000 registered personal trainers.
Our labour force is changing.
Our economy is changing, realigning itself into priorities our grandparents and great grandparents never dreamed.
I am here this evening to promote a more energetic national conversation about the future of work in our country.
The structure of our economy is experiencing some historical scale of realignment.
The high dollar, terms of trade at 140 year highs, the mining boom… this is unprecedented.
And our lives are changing, and will continue to change, because of it.
The big questions this big change prompts:
First – where will our future jobs come from?
What sectors of the economy are supplying most of the new jobs and which sectors will do so 20 years from now and beyond?
Second – what will our future places of work look and feel like?
Indeed what do we want them to look like?
How are we working? Where are we working from?
What is the nature, what is the definition, what is the spiritual description, of being an employee and employer or something in between?
And how do we get the balance right between these things and the rest of our lives on earth?
And omnipresent – the productivity question – threading its way through all these questions and answers.
It will not go away.
However we prod it and poke it and pull faces at it, it will not go away.
Australia's lagging productivity has haunted both national and state level politics and public policy for some 10 years. This includes labour productivity.
It is timely, I think, to examine what is happening to our jobs, what can drive productivity at the enterprise level and what can deliver good jobs.
What work means to us
Jim Clifton, the Chairman and CEO of Gallup declared in 2007 that the great global dream was this:
"What the whole world wants is a good job."
I believe that is what Australians want, now and in the future: ensuring good jobs for themselves and their families.
This is a key focus of the Gillard Government.
Because our jobs establish our relationships with each other, our families and as Gallup observed "our relationships with our country and the whole world around us".
We spend on average 22 percent of our time engaged at work. Many of us spend much longer.
It's where we earn our income, shape our lifestyles, and build savings for our retirement.
We derive much of our identity and confidence from work.
We can benefit from better health and wellbeing at work.
We form part of our relationship with Government from work.
We eschew conflict and seek harmony and security at work.
It is where we build our economy, political stability, community and society – and therefore what the future will be like for our children.
Yet read any paper today and you could be forgiven for thinking that this concept of 'work' revolves solely around an Act of Parliament.
Like some law alone can capture all of this, and magically answer these questions.
I don't believe the conflict model of workplace relations – us versus them – accurately captures or describes a large and growing part of our future workplaces.
I do however believe that Australian trade unions will continue to play an essential role in a fair distribution of the wealth created in Australian workplaces.
I do believe that small business can thrive alongside big business.
I can confidently predict that in our future workplaces:
- productivity will be important
- fairness will be important
- engagement will be important
- autonomy and empowerment will be important
- respect for systemic innovation and efficiencies will be important
- the potential of people will be important
For the creation of good jobs in the future we need to ask when and how our laws and our public policies reflect or change our values and the habits of morality with which we are synchronised.
That is why the Prime Minster has spoken recently about the importance of this Labor Government embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and ambition of being your own boss.
It is why the Treasurer is not just introducing a new tax of record breaking mining profits, but reducing the corporate rate to 29 percent and giving small business tax breaks.
On the Labor side we know we have to consider carefully how future jobs will be created and what they will look like as functioning, efficient, satisfying workplaces.
It is no accident that we are called Labor.
The creation of good jobs in sustainable industries will depend upon the creation and encouragement of productive and creative capacity in Australian workplaces.
And identifying, inspiring and harnessing that productive capacity depends upon building better relationships at work and generating respect for the potential of Australian workers.
In other words, engagement – perhaps even happiness at work. Happiness – what a big word that is.
Innovation, entrepreneurship and mentoring make a big difference to both job satisfaction and productivity.
The future of work is not as hard to predict as some might believe.
Our history of work is a reliable guide. It demonstrates that our workplaces and the way we work have always been changing.
And I believe the underlying forces and trends guiding those changes for the last 40 years will accelerate over the next 40 years.
I think we can discern six key trends:
- Increased participation (the march of women through the workforce)
- The demographics of the workforce (spending more years at work, where we are working)
- Where we work (locations of employment, working from home, international jobs)
- New industries (technology, outsourcing household activities, knowledge workers)
- Working seasons and lifetime education; and
- Rising wages and productivity
1. Participation — higher participation rates and the march of women through the workforce
In February this year, more Australians than ever before were recorded to be employed – some 11,444,000 people.
In 2010 Australia had its highest participation rate (65.7 percent) since the end of the convict era.
Our participation rate remains well above OECD weighted averages.
Underpinning the participation rate has been steady increases in female workforce force participation by around half since the mid 1970s, to 59 percent today.
The discrimination and barriers against working women have declined (but not disappeared) over recent decades.
Married women and mothers are returning to the labour force.
The availability of childcare has increased, enabling women to return to the workforce sooner after having a child.
In fact 150,000 women have subscribed to the Gillard Government's paid parental leave scheme. A scheme that is fully costed, paid for and sustainable.
Yet we know much more must be done.
We must burst through the glass ceiling that, despite this good progress, silently impedes the further meaningful participation of women in our workforce.
A mere 13.8 percent of board directors for ASX 200 listed organisations are women.
This number has effectively stalled for the past decade.
But the gender balance of our boardrooms is an embarrassment.
Our workplace diversity lags for people with disabilities and indigenous Australians.
Of working age people with disability, only 50 percent were in employment, compared to 78.6 percent of people with no disability.
Whilst the employment-population ratio for working age indigenous Australians has risen from 35.9 percent in 1994 to 51.7 percent in 2008 (from the latest ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey), this is clearly also too low.
2. Changing demographics of the workforce
Australians are spending more years at work – working to an older age.
Longer life expectancy, better health and reward for cerebral work over brawn is favouring longer years in the workforce
Increasingly we are witnessing the end of the idea of a fixed retirement age. Partly because a lot of us, frankly, cannot afford to give up work altogether.
Today the generational breakdown of our workforce is like this:
Internet (millennial) generation 19% (15-29 years)
Generation X 36% (30 – 46 years)
Baby boomers 42% (47 – 68 years)
Conservatives 3% (69+ years)
So we are growing older.
And the way we work is changing too.
There are 3.5 million part time and casual workers in Australia. That is 28 percent of the workforce.
2.2 million employees aged 15 years or over were casual employees.
Casual employment is more prevalent among females (28 percent) than among males (20 percent). It is also more prevalent among part-time employees (55 percent) than among full-time employees (10 percent).
The percentage of casual employment increased from 18 percent in 1990 to 26 percent in 2004, but has remained stable since the mid 2000s.
3. Where we work is changing — locations of employment including working from home and international jobs
Less people work in an office now, or what I as a union man would recognise as a traditional workplace, under the direct and ongoing supervision of a manager.
Today about 1.4 million Australians today work from home.
These figures have tended to fluctuate; but just ask Senator Conroy – they will get bigger, much bigger with the growth of fast broadband, cloud computing, internet search engines, mobile telecommunications and emerging knowledge engines.
Development of urban infrastructure, commuting times to work, the tree change/sea change surge and the balance between work and family life are also important.
But current trends recognise that maintaining connections with your employer, colleagues and staff – the old time idea of working face to face – remains very important.
That is why we see the trend of those working partially from home growing faster than those wanting to work solely from home.
The global workforce is also here in Australia – and we are over there.
The International Organisation for Migration reports that in 2010 there were 214 million migrants in the world and that this number could rise to 405 million by 2050.
We know populations are mobile. As Paul Keating would say, the mob is moving and they'll go where the good jobs are, and the good schools and safe streets for their kids.
There has been a growing shift – both in Australia and overseas – to temporary migration programs which prop up our various industries in the short term.
The success of our skilled migration programs is reflected in an intake that's more likely to have university level qualifications than the resident Australian population.
Skilled migrants also establish international networks that foster trade, knowledge sharing, research and innovation which makes ours a more competitive and productive economy.
More Australian companies are operating in overseas markets. Often using functions in Australia to assist service delivery abroad.
Sometimes this does not always mean outsourcing jobs overseas has worked. Jobs can disappear and return due to unforeseen consequences. However increasing fluidity in jobs has seen astonishing change over the last 5 to 10 years.
We are a Government confident and committed to increasing and strengthening the Australian workforce through international skills and student numbers.
4. New industries — technology, outsourcing household activities and knowledge workers
Though employment as a percentage of GDP continues to decline in some sectors, a silent revolution of growth is going on elsewhere, most notably in services.
There are more and more jobs in the para-professional, clerical, hospitality and new trade occupations.
Even just in the 12 months to this February, employment in Health Care and Social Assistance – a key part of our services economy – increased by almost 60,000.
In Professional, Scientific and Technical Services the labour force increased by almost 16,000; and Financial and Insurance Services by some 15,500.
The surge of the service sector over the last 40 years is as broad based as it is impressive.
- Information and communications services have become the New Age all pervasive employment utility – IT skills are indispensable.
- Business services are growing as enterprises of all types outsource both core and non core functions to workers who support the enterprise rather than work within it.
- Property services and financial services have both long been on the up. Financial services in particular benefit from the outsourcing of transactions and investment. And of course increasing superannuation from 9 to 12 percent creates jobs.
- Hospitality and tourism, recreation and cultural services have all developed as we have become more cosmopolitan and more flush with disposable income. Hospitality and tourism growth shows we are outsourcing the kitchen — we do get out more. Sailing, bushwalking, camping, water skiing, theatre-going, overseas travel – all this shows we are outsourcing leisure.
- We have outsourced the home doctor and we attend more pre-schools when we are 3 and more universities when we are over 70.
- Transport services employ more people now. Construction is cyclical but civil work is growing. Environmental services are becoming more and more about testing, assessment and amelioration.
- And 21st century workplaces like biotech and nanotechnology, are the New Age technologies, which are growing in strength and glamour, and will more and more provide the clever, skilled jobs of tomorrow.
The internet is challenging business models: from retail to sport to taxation and travel.
But the internet is also generating jobs.
Employment for Information Communications Technology professionals has increased by 48,700 in the last five years, now up to 224,900. This growth is expected to continue, with employment for ICT professionals projected to increase by 22,400 in the next five years.
Self employment & outsourcing
We are also seeing the rise of business ownership and contractualism and franchising.
We see payment for outputs not inputs – the ICT and internet savvy net generation are pushing a shift in the workforce being paid by means other than hours of work and their starting and finishing times.
In November 2010, 19.1 percent of employed people were self employed.
Men had substantially higher rates of self-employment than females – 23.8 percent of employed men were self-employed compared to 13.4 percent self employed women.
We are also seeing the outsourcing of household activities.
There is enormous growth in spending on outsourcing personal and household activities – a worldwide pattern is now such that it is likely to exceed the spending on retailing (except in motor vehicles) for the first time in 2012.
Goods from retail outcomes (including cars) now account for less than a quarter of incomes, and heading for less than a fifth.
We know jobs will continue to grow for knowledge workers and skilled and semi skilled occupations.
The process of replacing brawn with brain – this is not about hiring more white coated experts but encouraging innovation in all workers – from operating a blast furnace to nursing.
The shift to a more knowledge-based workforce can be seen in the changing occupational mix. 
Employment growth just in the past 12 months has been substantial in many higher skilled occupations.
Of the 20 occupations which generated the largest employment growth in the past year, all but one have a skill requirement commensurate with some kind of post-school education or training.
Nine of the top 20 growth occupations over the past year have a skill requirement commensurate with a Bachelor Degree or higher. Many of these high growth occupations include management roles in Australian businesses and organisations. 
Over the past 25 years, the proportion of workers in occupations commensurate with a Bachelor Degree or higher increased from 23 percent to 30 percent.
5. More working seasons and lifetime education
Very few people today have one job for 50 years with a gold watch and a send off party at the end. Followed by a retirement cottage in Woy Woy with a motorboat.
Generation Y will have a lot of different jobs in a lot of different industries.
What does this mean?
What does this show?
Capacity to change, capacity to transfer skills, capacity to learn new skills – this all bodes well for future change in our workplaces and how we work.
This is the new way of work that's coming.
And lifetime education and training is the new normal.
We see increasing numbers each year of students at TAFE (1.9 million) and university (1.2 million).
People return to further study now and there are more and more graduate courses in this second decade of the new millennium.
The proportion of Australian adults who are undertaking formal study is among the highest in the OECD.
Only Finland (14.9%), Iceland and Sweden (both 12.9%) have higher rates of adult participation in formal education.
6. Rising wages and salaries – contributing to better standards of living and greater household income
Average full time total adult earnings for 2011 for all industries was $69,700
All industries with +- $15,000 except for mining ($112,900) and retail ($50,100), hospitality ($48,300) and agriculture ($48,200)
There has been a 7.1 percent fall in average hours of work and a 48 percent increase in real wages over the past 30 years.
In the long run Australia's standard of living has risen strongly. For instance we are five times better off than in 1912 in real terms.
Household incomes are also rising.
The cost of "essentials" such as food and clothing has fallen significantly as a share of our incomes due to productivity gains and being an open economy.
However, not all Australian workers have shared equally in pay remuneration. That is why our Fair Work Laws and the Prime Minister enabled the Social and Community Services case to be heard by Fair Work Australia which will now result in 150,000 (mostly female) workers to receive pay equity.
So those are the trends ladies and gentlemen.
Let us now look with clear open eyes, if we can, at productivity.
It is the unflagging engine of our national wealth, personal incomes and living standards.
Productivity is all about three key strategies which are drivers and enablers at the enterprise level.
- Incentives. Business needs clear signals and certainty. For instance:
- Proper processes for decisions
- Considered implications and careful costings of all decisions
- Good governance not distracted by unbalanced compliance, regulation and reporting
- Flexibility. This can be compromised by inappropriate regulation. Debate about workplace relations regulation arises under this heading.
- Capability. Skills and education are critical. But also at the enterprise level, higher performing management arises under this heading.
This definition of productivity shows workplace regulation is relevant to one of three enablers of growth in our enterprises.
But on its own it is not going to take the enterprise or organisation too far.
We should aspire to be a high wage, high productivity country – and long term policies are required.
Now, I don't have the view that unions are in competition with business.
I do have the view that productivity is a key ingredient for successful workplaces of the future.
I do have the view that productivity rises in high performance workplaces.
I do have the view that productivity falls in high stress, low trust workplaces.
I don't have the view that productivity gains are accomplished by lower wages and longer hours.
Nor do I have the view that competition is to be feared, rather it is fundamental to success.
Productivity growth has been lower in the last decade than the average for the last 30 years.
I don't automatically assume one general nationwide problem here. It can be useful – rather than assuming it must be due to workplace relations legislation – to identify trouble spots.
Phil Ruthven of IBIS World here has clearly identified non-performing industries arising from the nation's 19 industry divisions that in turn house 509 individual classes of industry that make up our $1.4 trillion in GDP of goods and services.
We can see that the top performers in the last 5 years to F2011 included:
- Information, Media and Telecommunications (5.6% pa productivity growth)
- Finance and Insurance (3.1% pa)
- Retail trade (2.4% pa)
- Agriculture (2% pa)
All have benefitted tangibly from technology, logistics and innovation.
Among the disappointing industries are:
- Mining ( – 5.7% pa)
- Utilities ( – 5.5% pa)
- Rental, hiring and real estate services ( – 2.1% pa)
- Hospitality ( – 2.1% pa)
We can make generalisations here about capital expenditure yet to come on line.
We can recognise how bushfires, floods, droughts and the high dollar have mitigated national growth. We can debate how Work Choices made no impact on productivity and how its replacement has changed this.
But to simply select either cyclical or structural or terms of trade adjustment will not explain the future of productivity across all industries.
Mining for instance has experienced delayed benefits from huge investments, with capital surges not yet delivering the bonanza that is the quadrupling of mineral prices.
Utilities have not reinvested in distribution networks and are now increasing prices.
The property industry's house prices have boomed over 20 years and productivity has not.
Hospitality has been hit by the impact of the high dollar on inbound tourism and skills shortages and by the worst floods in a generation.
Yet other sectors are struggling despite productivity growth. Manufacturing has seen 1.1% productivity growth per annum despite the rise of China and the high dollar.
But other sectors – including but not limited to Government – have failed to systematically boost productivity.
What is certainly clear is that it is highly doubtful the two year old Fair Work Act can carry the blame for our woeful productivity performance over the past decade.
Nothing I have said should be taken as meaning that the review of the Fair Work Act will not generate a useful assessment for government to consider. I am sure it will.
But workforces of the future should not outsource all things and all matters of productivity to workplace regulation alone.
The creation of productive capacity at enterprises includes much that is not traditionally perceived as the preserve of industrial relations.
- Efficiency and waste – research reveals in organisations that employees believe that up to a third of their time is wasted on inefficient time wasting tasks. Employees hate inefficient workplaces. Fixing inefficiency is key to unlocking productivity. It allows buy in from employers and employees. People in my experience usually know how to fix problems but have never been asked. Waste reduction delivers permanent improvements to productivity.
- Integrate learning and work – employers who train and retain their employees always receive greater loyalty from their employees. Employees who believe they are achieving more of their potential in these enterprises.
- Value people's contribution – the 'what's in it for me' test – organisations that can explain to their employees where the employee fits in and a plan for each employers future create far greater alignment between employee and employer.
- Recognise happiness is linked to work – American research has found employers prefer to hire happy people because they make a better contribution. I believe individual and enterprise performance is linked to happiness. That word again.
- Systematically innovate – the best workforces are systemically innovative. There is enormous potential for the creativity in people to be unleashed. This means prioritising innovation. Innovation should be measured. Innovation should be rewarded. Enterprises should always be looking for ways to improve and innovate products and processes.
The best – and simplest – definition of innovation I have heard is this: it's anything that gives you an edge against your competitors.
Innovation is not always all about boffins and computer modelling and technical prowess. But it's about smart workplaces, engaged in what they do and figuring out with creativity and teamwork how to be better.
- Devolve decision making – autonomy at work, which improves morale. Employees who control their jobs and can also deliver information, including bad news up organisations, always feel more engagement to their enterprise.
- Create healthy workplaces – extra ordinary harm is done to workplaces by poor health and safety. Safe Work Australia estimates in 2009/10 a $60.3 billion cost is attributed by poor OH&S and 640,000 people incurred a work injury.
This sort of stuff is not soft. It is how to get employees to commit their discretionary effort.
Excessive waste, high turnover, poor OH&S – this is never or rarely measured. But it always hits the bottom line.
So what are the signs of success for good jobs in the future?
I would suggest the following tests show if Australians know they have a good job:
- Staying longer in the job
- More focused on what they are paid to do
- Taking less sick leave
- Believing they are achieving their potential
- Seeing waste and inefficiency falling
- Believing business has good values
- Intrinsically interested in job
I believe that the future of work means:
- Agreements at an enterprise encouraging some measure of competitiveness.
- Changing the current trend of many agreements being merely transactional – dealing principally with wages but not enough with other content.
- Enterprises aspiring to have an organisational culture of engagement and collegiality with partial virtual workforce in the digital age.
- Understanding that not all small and medium workplaces of the future will want to negotiate, but simply attract labour, with certain simple wages schedule.
- Recognising we cannot always externalise workforce issues — i.e. if we just kill off trade unions then everything would be better — i.e. if we just changed legislation everything would be better. Simple cures for complex problems amount to industrial relations "quackery". Not all problems either could or should be solved by government.
- And there is an imperative to recognise the challenge of change is hard grind in your own business. There is no substitute to disciplined knuckling down.
- We should have learning and innovation representatives embedded at every level of the workplace to create dialogue bottom up.
- Value creation can only be unleashed with better relationships at the workplace (it's good to be happy at work).
- We must appreciate that encouraging diversity is not political correctness but a driver of productive capacity – for example the productivity imperative to break the glass ceiling for women at work.
- Cooperation and mutuality of effort at work create more meaning and value for people and organisations than contest and conflict between levels of hierarchy in an enterprise.
- In future Parliaments workplace relations will be much more concentrated on freeing the productivity potential of collaborative workplaces than a sterile debate about the evil of unionism or the benefits of statutory individual contracts.
- The parts of our manufacturing sector that will survive the current high dollar environment will have cooperative engaged specific workplace arrangements.
- Jobs that allow employees to have mastery of their lives are very good jobs.
- Unions and employer associations will flourish as they align with a focus on productivity, skills and providing workplace empowerment for employees and employers.
- Fair Work Australia rolling up its sleeves to help actively conciliate between the occasions conflict does occur rather than wait too long.
The future of work, in my belief, is about good jobs.
And good jobs attract good people.
Australians instinctively understand this point very well.
Much of what constitutes a good job, in my belief, drives productivity at the enterprise level.
Much of what improves performance, in my belief, is unrelated to the traditional battleground of industrial relations.
Rather, the best opportunities for the creation of productive capacity occur – in my belief – through building relationships.
My experience of reading newspaper opinion columns, or blog sites or watching modern current affairs, visiting Tasmanian workplaces or hearing some of the debates around the office or on my child's soccer sidelines… leads me to think, if not all of you, that there are plenty of ideas out there about the future of work, the desire for a good job and the importance of empowered workplaces.
Australia is a nimble and capable economy. Perhaps getting the approach right, in our future workplaces and in our future lifestyles, in 'the land of the fair go' may not be as difficult as it is for bigger friends. Our more stricken friends and allies overseas.
As George Megalogenis' points out The Australian Moment, instead of being 10 years behind the global curve as the evidence suggests was the case prior to opening up our economy in the early 1980s, we are ahead of the game because our economy is not as cumbersome as the US or UK or Japan, China or the EU.
With the right approach, we can have the best workplaces in the world.
We can make our workplaces not just fulfilling and productive – and happy – but more gung-ho than our competitors.
At present, our debate moves tiresomely back and forth along a railway branch line between the two opposing destinations of fairness at one end flexibility at the other.
What if this debate wasn't linear at all? What if there was an alternative destination? …An alternative 'sweet spot' for improving wealth creation and wellbeing at enterprises?
I believe we can find it by taking Australia to this destination of change and advancement — through leadership in the workplace.
The leadership role required of the Government is to enable the transition to the future of work.
To lay the highway but not drive the bus.
It means providing supporting mechanisms – such as aligning education and training with work. We are doing this.
It is to support industries through change – look closely – be it Clean Energy Future or the steel or auto industry support packages. We are doing this.
It is to support people through structural adjustment – we mean jobs programs. Not just income maintenance but retraining. We are doing this.
It is about fiscal stability and tax reform – be it the rapid reduction of the deficit or reducing business taxes. We are doing this.
It is about institutional support – more active agreement seeking and dispute resolving by Fair Work Australia. This will happen.
It is about infrastructure and the NBN – the construction and upgrade of road, rail, bridges and ports – so business can flow. It's happening.
It is about the consistent desire to cut red tape to facilitate trade. Also happening.
It is about an NDIS and aged care reform to make sure everyone is included. It's happening.
The leadership role – our leadership role – is to ensure good jobs are at the centre of everything the government does.
Business and trade unions leadership role is to look within for what they can do better, rather than shout out at one another.
We all want to know our children will have good jobs.
Be those jobs overseas or working remotely.
Jobs that are more productive.
Jobs that provide a higher standard of living.
And we support our young ones all the way through their careers by encouraging lifelong learning.
And by encouraging them to be more flexible and adaptable.
That leadership must come in time, over time, but soon.
From all of us.
No matter where we work.
 As at 29 February 2012
 As at November 2010 (latest data available)
 Interestingly and not as you'd automatically assume, the age groups most likely to work from home are 35-54 year olds. The rate is also significant for the 25-34 year olds. In addition there is little overall gender difference in those working from home – they aren't all women trying to balance work and family life. Occupations most commonly working from home are: managers and administrators, advanced clerical and service workers, professionals and associate professionals.
 At 30 June 2011 there were some 620,000 temporary visa holders with a work right in our country.
 Indeed in September 2011 the Government announced a package of reforms to visa arrangements for international students that will assist in ensuring Australia remains an attractive study option and will offer practical support for international education providers that have been under pressure as a result of the high Australian dollar". These reforms were made in response to the Knight Review of the student visa program.
 From an industry perspective, most ICT Professionals are employed in the Computer System Design and Related Services industry sector, which has increased by 64,600 in the five years to February 2012, to 179,900. Employment in this sector is projected to increase by 42,000 in the five years to 2015-16.
 The number of people who are self employed grew 29.2 percent from August 1998 to November 2010. However, the rate of self employment has remained relatively stable between August 1998 and November 2010 – in other words the overall number of people grew significantly but the proportion of the workforce remained the same. It is important to note this is a relatively short period of time (12 years) and many of the substantial structural changes to Australia's economy happened prior to 1998. In August 1998, 19.9 percent of the employed people were self employed (24.1 per cent for men, 14.4 per cent for women).
 Household outsourcing in the new age: $263 billion in 2011 financial year or $29,900 per household. Retail spending (excluding motor vehicles) $286 billion in financial year 2011.
 According to the ABS, the proportion of the workforce employed as Managers or Professionals has increased by 7 percentage points over the past 25 years to 35 percent in 2012.
 A notable exception is Registered Nurses, which grew by 10,200 over the year and is projected to grow very strongly by 52,700 over the period to 2015-16. This reflects strong anticipated growth in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry, driven by factors such as the ageing population and increasing demand for community and home based care services. Ten of the top 20 growth occupations over the past year have a skill requirement commensurate with vocational education and training qualifications (from Certificate II to Advanced Diploma). Many occupations at this skill level are still feeling the effects of a subdued labour market in the wake of the global recession, continuing global uncertainty, consumer caution and a high Australian dollar. As growth in the domestic economy strengthens, however, higher levels of demand for these occupations are likely to ensue.
 A 2007 paper by Princeton University economist Henry Farber, shows that workers born later in the 20th century stuck with employers for less time than those born earlier. Farber said that "the declining job duration and declining probability of long-term employment clearly implies that individuals are changing jobs more". The Wall Street Journal has also begun to extensively cover the theme in developed economies of 'Lifetime of Career Changes' and reports that the average American — or Australian, or Canadian, or New Zealander — will go through many careers in a lifetime. The Journal posits that number is usually 7, though at times it is as low as 3, and sometimes as high as 10. Some of the work suggests that 7 careers appears to be too many, and no one knows what the right number is.
 TAFE is now recognised as not only training young people but helping people re-track their careers . The proportion of adult Australians aged 25-34 enrolled in formal education (study which leads to a recognised qualification) has increased from 12.2 per cent in 2001 to 15.1 percent in 2011, and the proportion aged 35-44 who are enrolled in formal education has increased from 7.3 percent in 2001 to 8.9 percent in 2011.
 In 2009 11.7 percent of Australians aged 30 to 39 were enrolled in a course of study, which is almost double the OECD average level of 6.2 per cent.
 The Gillard Government is already assisting through a wide range of initiatives, such as a 10 year innovation agenda; offering business advisory services; investing in R&D; and aiding Australian industry participation in the supply chain.