Money Work Blue-collar blokes suffer the most from the trend to part-time jobs
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Blue-collar blokes suffer the most from the trend to part-time jobs

blue collar work
Men feel work is crucial to who they are. The death of full-time jobs threatens this. Photo: Getty
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The massive shift away from full-time work is striking at the very heart of what it means to be a man.

We all know that jobs are being increasingly casualised across the workforce. But for men, and especially blue-collar men, this massive shift challenges the core of their identities.

If we take a deep dive into the latest data on job creation and industry changes, a concerning picture emerges.

The fact is that the man on the ground knows far more about the future of the work than the guys in the office.

As the chart below shows, it’s not those in finance or professional services who are seeing part-time job creation, it’s men in construction and transport.

part time male job creation

At the same time, tradies and manufacturing are leading the shedding of full-time jobs.

The casualisation trend isn’t restricted to men, but it is a massive shift that goes to the heart of who men are.

In her recent book Testosterone Rex, neuropsychologist Cordelia Fine writes that we have constructed work to be integral to what it means to be a man. For a lot of men, what they do is who they are.

Most of us wouldn’t mind fewer hours at work, and full-time work is definitely becoming outdated. Organisations are demanding a more nimble workforce that they can deploy in different ways.

The trouble is that full-time work is stable and regular – you can budget and prepare for life’s unexpected hiccups – whereas part-time work makes that a lot harder, putting workers at risk of mental and financial stress.

It’s not fun, mostly because Australia doesn’t know how to work part-time. Part-time work is often made up of the leftover work nobody else gets around to doing, and tends to be a bit simple.

full time work vanishingCreating part-time jobs as part of a career, an ambitious career too, is entirely new. The idea is so embryonic that managers don’t know how to design meaningful part-time work.

So the rise in part-time work, partly to reduce overheads, is being driven out of sight and out of mind.

And it’s on building sites, on tradies doing the call outs or in businesses where head office can be distant from actual implementation.

As the labour market changes, the seeds of a crisis of masculinity will brew.

Conrad Liveris is a corporate adviser on workplaces and risk. He holds a Certificate in Governance and Risk Management and a Master of Commerce.

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