Can we stop the 2030 Labour Crisis?


A new TED Talk just released discusses the upending of the global labour market in the ten years between 2020 and 2030.

Rainer Strack, a German human resources expert talks about how in that ten years we will see a move from a labour surplus (not enough jobs), to a major labour shortage (too many jobs), especially in three out of four of the most populous developing BRIC nations – Brazil/Russia/India/China. India is the only one of these that will supposedly still have a labour surplus, whilst the others will need a major injection from overseas talent.

Strack attributes the projected 2020 labour surplus to the major advent of technology and automation, not just in manufacturing, but across all industries. Initially in the short term, it seems that this will create a definite labour surplus and create, as Rainer says “a skills mismatch”. The advent of these technologies, however, will create new industries and employment opportunities so the higher skilled people will have access to a new range of options; but these will not be at home – these opportunities will be waiting for people overseas, in developing countries (Brazil Russia and China).

Strack paints a strong picture with understandable data sets (and a dash of dry German humour), and concludes by asking the audience to think about how we can prepare for this massive change over the next 15 years. Can we influence governments? Can we influence business practices to ensure that we can provide sustainable opportunities for the future of workforce planning on a global scale?

This is a really interesting discussion on labour and sustainability; whilst it’s not so much focused on Australia, we will certainly see changes to our own workforce in the coming years. In Victoria, we are already seeing a labour surplus following the closure of their automotive manufacturing industry, and the new Andrews Labour Government is looking at long term planning around re-skilling and re-training this large workforce.

Moving beyond 2020, Australia has the potential build a growth industry in the renewables sector; this is an example of how by 2030 there might be a surplus of jobs in the Australian market, and not enough people to sustain it. This is a very different picture to that of our current contracted economy, which has been heavily impacted by a drop in the global demand for resources. As our population grows, so do opportunities for business – but this must be done in a sustainable manner. Perhaps if we begin to focus on long term workforce planning now, Australia might just be able to help adjust the global supply and demand curve, to assist other nations create more manageable and ultimately more sustainable economies.

Watch the TED Talk by Rainer Strack below and decide for yourself what is possible.

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