A Women’s Agenda for COVID-Era Reconstruction

Women have been uniquely and disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession: losing more jobs and hours, shouldering a higher unpaid caring work burden, and undertaking essential and frontlines jobs. Without targeted action to rebuild women's jobs and ease caring demands, decades of collective advances toward decent paid work could be eroded.

Alison Pennington, Senior Economist with the Centre for Future Work assisted The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) preparing the timely report Leaving Women Behind: The Real Cost of the COVID Recovery. The report documents the gendered impacts of the crisis and the federal government's COVID-era policies, and outlines a public investment strategy to undo the damage of the crisis, and ensure women play an equal role in an inclusive economic recovery.

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Porter IR Bill a Wish List for Business

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter tabled an omnibus bill on 9 December containing multiple amendments to Australia's labour laws, including the Fair Work Act. In theory, the bill is the outcome of a series of IR reform discussions the government launched during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time it heralded a new spirt of cooperation between business, unions, and the government -- but that spirit didn't last long. The bill accepts numerous business demands that will further liberalise casual work, undermine genuine collective bargaining, and generally suppress wages even more than they already are.

This commentary is a longer version of an assessment of the new legislation prepared by Jim Stanford (originally published in The Conversation).

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The Pandemic is Our Clarion Call to Rebuild Good Jobs

Victorians emerging from lockdowns now confront Australia's harsh COVID-era work reality marked by more insecure jobs, mass unemployment, and long-term work at the kitchen table.

In this commentary, which originally appeared in The AgeCentre for Future Work Senior Economist Alison Pennington discusses what the pandemic reveals about Australia's high levels of insecure work, new work-from-home risks, and how rebuilding more secure labour markets will be critical to creating more good jobs in our post-COVID recovery. 

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Feature Interviews: Worker Voice in a Changing World of Work

The Centre for Future Work's Jim Stanford, and Alison Pennington feature in a collection of interviews on technology, work, climate, and the role of unions, for  a new online course Power, Politics and Influence at Work delivered by the University of Manchester, UK.

Video recordings of the interviews are available here:

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Budget's Illusory Hope for Business-Led Recovery

The Commonwealth government tabled its 2020-21 budget on 6 October, six months later than the usual timing because of the dramatic events associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession. There is no doubt it is a budget unlike any other in Australia’s postwar history. While the budget certainly unleashes unprecedented fiscal power, its underlying logic and specific policy design are unsatisfactory in many ways. We present here analysis and commentary on several aspects of the budget, drawing on input from all of the Centre’s research staff: Economist and Director Dr. Jim Stanford, Senior Economist Alison Pennington, and Economist Dan Nahum.

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Webinar: How TAFE Can Drive Australia's Skills and Jobs Recovery

With millions facing unemployment and crisis-accelerated job transitions, public investment in the skills and earning capabilities of Australians will be critical to our post-pandemic recovery. 

To mark National TAFE Day and the release of new research by the Centre for Future Work on the economic and social benefits of the TAFE system, The Australia Institute hosted a timely discussion on how the TAFE system can drive a COVID-era skills and jobs recovery with ACTU President Michele O'Neil, Correna Haythorpe, federal president of the Australian Education Union, and Alison Pennington, Senior Economist at the Centre for Future Work. 

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Victorian Inquiry Offers Novel Routes to Regulating Gig Work

Findings from a landmark inquiry commissioned by the Andrews Victorian government into the work conditions in the “on demand” (gig) economy have been released. The report’s findings are timely with COVID-era unemployment surging and an expanding pool of vulnerable workers relying on “gig” work to meet living costs. 

This commentary published through Medium outlines the key findings of the On-Demand Inquiry.

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Austerity Threatens Women's Access to Paid Work

Women have suffered the worst labour market impacts since the shutdowns. Gender-unequal impacts have been due to women's greater exposure to customer-facing industries shut down first by public health orders, higher employment intensity in insecure and part-time positions, and an increased caring burden unmet by the state. But instead of providing countervailing support, the federal government is accelerating women’s work crisis.

In this commentary, originally published in the New Daily, Senior Economist at the Centre for Future Work Alison Pennington outlines how government's austerity agenda has intensified the unequal jobs fallout and threatens to "turn back the clock" for women's economic security.

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Repairing Universities & Skills Key to Meeting COVID-Era Challenges

Training must play a vital role in reorienting the economy after the pandemic, supporting workers training for new jobs including millions of young people entering a depressed labour market without concrete pathways to work. But what kind of jobs will we be doing in 2040? And how prepared is Australia's skills system (and universities specifically) to play this important role now? 

Our Senior Economist Alison Pennington was interviewed by UTS The Social Contract podcast on how COVID-19 is reshaping relations between universities, government and industry. 

Alison explains how the pandemic economic crisis presents significant challenges to Australia's fragmented, underfunded and unplanned skills system wounded from decades of failed marketisation policies, and why sustained public investments in skills and jobs pathways will be essential to solving our economic and social challenges. 

You can listen to the episode HERE. She is joined by Megan Lilly, head of Workforce Development at the Australian Industry Group. 


Unleashing a National Reconstruction Plan Fit for Our Era

Our nation is confronting the most significant economic challenge in nearly a century. Australia's own experience of long-term, sustained public investment during post-war reconstruction shows direct tools of government planning and investment will be essential to our recovery today. Yet Scott Morrison continues to pretend his hands are tied: "if there's no business, there's no jobs, there's no income, there's nothing."

In this commentary originally published in the Newcastle HeraldCentre for Future Work Senior Economist Alison Pennington explains why Australia needs a public spending program proportionate to the nature, speed and depth of this crisis, and outlines some priorities for a public-led post-COVID-19 reconstruction plan.

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