There are a large number of factors which impact upon employing organisations in Australia. The ageing population, changing participation rates, and observations about the propensity of young people to career development and the predominance of Generation Y in key recruiting demographics are critical external factors. And there can be little doubt that the Australian population is becoming more culturally and ethnically diverse.
And then of course there is the unemployment rate in Australia, which, in common with many other countries in the world stands at generationally low levels even though as a global economy, we are in the process of exiting a period of financial decline. To all intent and purpose, Australia is currently enjoying a period of full employment with the January 2011 ABS data confirming Australian unemployment at 5.1per cent. There is all but no liquidity in the workforce and this position is effectively tighter still in professional markets and those with particular skill requirements.
In comparison to much of the developed world, Australia’s unemployment rate is low. The global powerhouse economies of the USA, UK and Germany have unemployment rates of 8.9per cent, 7.9per cent and 6.5per cent respectively and even the much vaunted BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia and India have rates of 5.7per cent, 7.6per cent and 10.07per cent unemployment. Of these, only China has a nominal rate of unemployment below that in Australia at 4.1per cent.
However, arguably the biggest challenge facing the Australian economy from an employment perspective is encouraging greater participation amongst women. Australia has a participation rate of 66.6per cent overall a rate which has increased steadily over the past 25 years and comfortably exceeds the OECD average at 60.2% putting Australia tenth against OECD competitor economies.
However, with regards women aged 25 to 44 years, Australia is ranked 8th lowest and overall participation for women in Australia is 58.7per cent against the male ratio of 72.1per cent.
The ABS weekly earnings data still shows a pay inequity of 17.4per cent between women and men, a figure which staggeringly has only reduced by 1.1per cent in the last 26 years. In effect, according to AMP/NATSEM’s Wealth Report, over a 40 year career, a man is likely to earn $900,000 more than a woman in the same position.
Women are also less likely to gain leadership positions, with only 10.7% of ASX200 executives being women and at CEO level, only two in every 100 CEOs are female.
Sure, Australia has recently, albeit belatedly introduced paid maternity leave and schemes such as the Chid Care Tax rebate do significantly reduce the impact of mother’s returning to the workforce, but more has to be done to encourage greater female participation to ensure that the Australian economy can continue to grow.
Australia still has a lower participation rate for mothers with young children than Canada, Sweden, the USA and the UK. What are they doing right, that we are getting wrong?