Value of Australia’s sharing economy hits $15 billion, while concerns around future of work grow

- February 13, 2017 3 MIN READ

The value of Australia’s sharing economy is expected to hit $55 billion across the next five years, having risen from $14.5 billion to over $15.1 billion in six months thanks to over two thirds of Australians now actively spending on or earning from a sharing economy service.

The latest RateSetter Sharing Economy Trust Index, which surveyed Australians in November, found that 22 percent of Australians are earning $50 or more from the sharing economy each month, with 5.6 percent, or around 800,000, earning over $300 per month.

The definition of ‘sharing economy’ in the survey incorporates the likes of car and ridesharing platforms, peer-to-peer lending services, accommodation sharing, crowdfunding platforms, and online marketplaces for goods, such as eBay.

Online marketplaces for goods are once more the most popular service in the space, with 54 percent of respondents stating they had used such a service in the previous six months. Rising significantly in use since the last survey were ridesharing and accommodation sharing services.

Over a third of those surveyed stated that they use the sharing economy to earn some extra spending cash, while 22 percent use earnings to cover a shortfall in their income in order to fund every day expenses. The Index also found 11 percent use the sharing economy as a stopgap when they’re unable to find work in their traditional field.

These figures come as Airtasker’s 2017 Future of Work report, which surveyed over 1,000 Australians, found over 80 percent of respondents fear automation will see their jobs made redundant over the next five years.

Furthermore, almost three quarters of respondents said they did not believe machines and technology will create more jobs than they replace, highlighting the argument put forward last year by Ed Husic, Labor’s shadow minister for the digital economy and the future of work, that many Australians had failed to connect with the government’s message of innovation, saying that most believed innovation rips away jobs rather than creates them.

‘Routine tasking’ and ‘precision tasks’ were found to be the most likely jobs to be replaced by technology in the near future, with almost 41 percent of respondents identifying human interaction as the main factor that will prevent a human job being replaced by a machine.

With concerns around technology making jobs redundant, the survey found that almost 88 percent of respondents are looking for more opportunities to earn extra income this year, up 7.9 percent from last year’s report.

To make that extra cash, many will look to the sharing economy, with 7.1 percent of respondents saying they had already used a sharing economy platform to earn extra money and would do so again, and a further 59 percent saying they had not earned through such platforms before but would consider doing so.

This has come through a growing awareness of the sharing economy in general, with 67 percent of respondents saying they are aware of the sector, compared to 49.2 percent in 2016.

While states such as NSW are looking at how to regulate the sharing economy, there are concerns about what working within the sector means for the workers themselves; the growth of the sector overseas has seen people exhausted from juggling working across various platforms, where they have no exact rights or protections as they are not employees.

A report from Bloomberg published in January found US Uber drivers are commuting hours each day to more lucrative cities and sleeping in public spaces in an effort to maximise earnings.

Also highlighting thoughts around the future of work this week is a paper from NAB on jobs in the digital age. NAB’s survey found 73 percent of respondents believe the jobs of the future lie in the tech sector.

To equip Australians for these jobs, almost 60 percent said it is important for students to learn how to code and build apps while at school, while 77 percent agreed that ongoing training and up-skilling in the workplace is key to keeping their jobs in the digital age.

 Image source: Fortune.

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