Australia: Too Late to Save or the Land of Opportunity?

The scope for new industries, particularly knowledge-led, and new ways of working, is massive in Australia. A country that has continued to rely on mining and manufacturing is becoming less and less relevant as it fails to adapt to the economic evolution happening in the rest of the world. That good old vernacular, “She’ll be right, mate” describes the typical laid back Aussie attitude that loses it’s charm when it’s put into the context of “Let’s keep slogging away at the same jobs we’ve always had and somehow the rest of the world will continue to humour us”. When in fact this country, which can offer so much, is predicted to hardly even register on the world scale at all.

Half the 10 biggest businesses in the US were created in a one generation (Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook). Australia has not created a new truly big business in almost 100 years (Woolworths 1924). We have enjoyed complacent prosperity since WWII. We are ripe for disruption on a grand scale. There will be no more car-makers coming to Oz employing locals on their terms. We need to create our own new businesses of the future. We need to shift our culture to admire people who can create and operate socially responsible new big businesses.

Bernard Salt — Futurist, Columnist, Author — 16 February 2017

With another car production plant closing down (were there any left?) what sort of work will the average Aussie, who used to slot nicely into a production line is wondering what the hell to do now. Aussie’s are struggling with the monumentally high costs of living in such an abundant society, whilst struggling to find the level of work that allows them to sustain the “great Australian dream” lifestyle. As mindset focuses increasingly inward: “how do I get my dream house?”, “how do I get my kids into the best private school?” we seem to turn our backs on the inspiration and creativity that the rest of the world is spewing forth.

Recent growth opportunities in the sector have been driven by increased internet speeds, the widespread uptake of smart phones and devices and increased use of new technology-based services including cloud-based accounting and data storage services, data analytics, artificial intelligence and robotics. The adoption of these services to drive new business models is also creating many challenges for firms across the sector.
The composition of the professional services workforce is also changing, as process related work and non-customer facing roles are replaced through automation and outsourcing. While there has been consistent growth in the employment of highly-skilled workers in the professional services sector, opportunities for less skilled workers have declined, along with opportunities for new graduates in some professions.

Victoria’s Future Industries, Victorian Government March 2016

At the very least, why hasn’t Australian industry and government attempted to replicate the proven concepts of startup culture, ecommerce and professional services? A random Google over here tends to lead to pages of American results. Why?

Where does Australian business (and government) stand on the essential qualities of sustainable business such as: environmental sustainability, social responsibility, work/life balance, and diversity and equality in the workplace? There is so much work to do to push further on these issues.

This is a truly exciting time for any creative thinker to challenge the status quo with new thinking with a global perspective.