There you go, the RBA says no change to the cash rate. The RBA leaves rates at 1.50%.
They also say there is ‘above-trend’ growth in advanced economies. They cite China as spending up big on infrastructure and property. This is helping Aussie commodity prices.
Shall we all pop the champagne? Not quite.
The official RBA statement actually reads quite positively. At least for the first four paragraphs. Then it gets on to the labour market.
‘Labour market indicators continue to be mixed and there is considerable variation in employment outcomes across the country. The unemployment rate has been steady at around 5¾ per cent over the past year, with employment growth concentrated in part-time jobs.’
The RBA then goes on to say they expect expansion in employment. That’s a head scratcher. How far ahead are they looking? It can’t be far. Maybe a year or two. But if they’re looking forward five to 10 years then their ‘indicators’ are way off.
The hard truth is that the labour market is going through incredible change. In Australia estimates are around 40% of jobs will disappear by 2027. Most of the baby boomer generation will be retired. And Generation Y will account for around 42% of the workforce.
In terms of population size, there are more millennials now than baby boomers. And these millennials need jobs. But if 40% of jobs are just going to vanish, how the heck is everyone going to earn a crust?
If there aren’t enough jobs, economic activity plummets. There will be a housing crisis. Recession will kick in. Inflation will run rampant. It could end up as being the worst recession Australia has ever seen.
Unless something is done now…
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Invest to become a high-knowledge economy
40% of jobs might disappear. But then again a similar number of jobs we’ve never seen before might appear.
A decade ago no one had ever heard of an App Designer, or Social Media Manager. A Cloud Specialist worked at the Bureau of Meteorology. And a Search Engine Optimiser was a mechanic working for the Coast Guard.
The rise of the smartphone opened up a world of opportunity for job seekers. Connected tech opens doors for young, digital natives far more than an accounting or law degree can.
Our high-tech world creates jobs that people can’t foresee. With the speed tech moves now, there will be more jobs coming that we can’t foresee.
But it’s important for the economy to be able to push this high-tech world forward.
And now is the time for it. There’s no point waiting another 10 years. There’s no point even waiting another five. Or waiting for another change of government. It will be too late by then, the damage will be done.
The Australian government needs to pump funds into science and technology right now to enable the jobs of the future to exist. Otherwise the country will fall behind and other forward thinking countries will streak ahead.
Take for instance the UK government. It just allocated £500 million in their budget for ‘electric vehicles, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI)’. That’s nowhere near enough to really make a difference — but it’s a start.
Australia has a chance this coming May to do something great. They can make real change by investing in similar tech. Allocate real spending in the 2017–18 Budget to high tech industry.
If Australia is to transition from the commodities boom then we must do it. We must become a high-knowledge economy.
It won’t pan out that way. The government will probably just allocate a nominal figure, like the UK.
But with enough groundswell, maybe they’ll do something ‘radical’.
That would mean leading the world in R&D, science, innovation and education. We must teach the workers of tomorrow how to work with AI. We must teach people how to program a robot and maintain it. We need to create an environment for discovery and invention of new tech.
And we must use it to become superhuman.
The future of work will be wildly different. It will involve supercomputers and AI. We will use this tech in the same way we use a PC and Google today.
It will be a world where AI will augment workers’ abilities. For example, the MIT Technology Review reports,
‘A secretive Canadian startup called Kindred AI is teaching robots how to perform difficult dexterous tasks at superhuman speeds by pairing them with human “pilots” wearing virtual-reality headsets and holding motion-tracking controllers.’
Imagine that. A world where we use AI and robotics to perform tasks faster and more efficiently than we could ever achieve without it.
This tech has the ability to revive floundering industry. Take for instance manufacturing. People say that manufacturing is dead. It doesn’t have to be.
Australia can’t compete with cheap labour like China. But what if we had 1,000 times greater output? And what if that was down to the use of robotics and AI?
That’s the kind of performance gain this tech can provide. And that creates opportunity. It creates employment. It creates competitive advantage. And that’s what can drive an economy forward.
There are three technologies that we must invest in more. These are, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and robotics.
It’s that simple. If the government were to just focus on supporting those three key industries it would turn the country around. AI, robotics and quantum computing might eliminate 40% of the jobs. But they’ll also create another 40%. Maybe even more.
The future for Australia might look sketchy. But it doesn’t have to. We must embrace future technologies. We must invest substantial amounts into it. If we can, then we might become one of the most prosperous countries in the world…again.
From the Port Phillip Publishing Library
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