A new report from the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute examines the changing landscape of university-to-employment transitions in Australia. The authors report that over her career, the median female graduate will earn over $600,000 more than the median female with no post-school qualifications. Male graduates enjoy a larger graduate earnings premium over their lifetime, at around $790,000 more than males without non-school qualifications. The Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA). data for 2016 shows that a bachelor’s degree increases individual earnings by 56% for men and 38% for women, compared with attainment of Year 11 or below.
To some extent this can be attributed to technology: the rapid evolution in the scope, capacities, and employment impacts of new innovations like artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and big data analysis. But other disruptive forces at work include dramatic changes in work organisation, business models and employment relationships in the context of global structural change: demographic, environmental and globalisation. Given that technology is neither neutral nor uncontrollable, shifting focus to the social and institutional influences on the world of work, and the collective capacity of society to regulate and shape that world, empowers society to take the future of work more actively into its own hands.