Growth matters for 21st century jobs

With the prospect of robotics and automation transforming work it was interesting to see a report recently comparing which Australian cities are best prepared for the changes ahead.  And guess which cities are doing better, the fastest growing ones.

The Knowledge City Index covering 25 Australian cities, was prepared by the online academic media outlet, The Conversation.

Here’s the thing about the survey results, size matters if you want to be a city that will produce jobs and opportunities in the new economy. 

According to the report,

“Five cities in Australia appear to be well prepared for the technological revolution and knowledge transition that are already taking place. Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, and Perth qualify as knowledge cities. The remaining 20 cities have observable knowledge limitations to various degrees.

“Canberra stands out as one of Australia’s leading knowledge cities, despite its comparatively small population and employment bases. Higher proportions of its population have both knowledge capacity and work in the knowledge economy than in any other city.

“Cities that have traditionally relied on the manufacturing and mining industries for their employment base lack sufficient knowledge capital and have significant shortfalls in their knowledge economy.”

Locally the report has mixed messages for Perth and WA generally.  It’s great that Perth qualifies as a knowledge city.  This is a testament to the state’s pro-growth policies built around support for the resources sector.

However, the report has warnings for Perth.  We score highly on most knowledge categories, including knowledge capacity, incomes, and digital access.  But we lag on growing our knowledge industries.  At the same time Perth’s population growth has slowed after the mining boom.

The solution to attracting more knowledge industries and to cement Perth as a knowledge city into the future must be more growth.