February 23, 2018

‘Worrying Trends’: Gig Economy Threatens to Cost Consumers ‘Quality’ Services, Economist Warns

It says that new technology including driverless cars and big data are less of a threat to transport jobs in the medium term than technology jobs platforms that provide individual jobs on a contract basis.

Jim Stanford, economist and director of the Australian Institute’s Centre for Future Work. Photo: Neil Ward


The Future of Transportation Work: Technology, Work Organisation, and the Quality of Jobs by economists Jim Stanford and Matt Grudnoff, from the left-wing think tank The Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute says the transport industry is valuable to the economy because it employs 625,000 people who are paid more than $45 billion in wages and who pay $25 billion in taxes. Many transport industry workers are highly-skilled older males without formal qualifications.


The report concludes that transportation work will not "disappear", but will change significantly.


"And not solely because of technology," it says.


The report said technology platforms had allowed an increasing number of individuals to register online and become a carrier without the protection of safety and security regimes.


Industry super fund TWUSUPER commissioned the report to assess the impact of rapid technological change and digital disruption on the sector.


Director of the Centre for Future Work Dr Jim Stanford said the future for Australian transport is bright, and demand for services in Australia would likely outpace growth in the wider economy.


“However, there are some worrying trends. In particular, the trend toward non-standard or precarious forms of work and employment in the industry could threaten both livelihoods and the quality of services," he said.


“This is likely to pose a bigger threat to quality transport jobs in the medium-term than automation and new technology, like driverless vehicles, machine-learning and big data.


"While new technology will certainly have an impact over the next two decades, it’s unlikely to result in mass job losses in the near term."


Dr Stanford said automation of transport would be slowed by the need for appropriate regulation, investments in infrastructure, proof of safety, capital investment lag times and insurance.


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