Causes of Occupation Specific Skills Shortages

A review of the current skills shortages has identified a need to review our work practices.  Two professions have been identified as having consistently high demand, Nursing and Bricklaying (Job Outlook 2019, Future Job Outlook 2009). Universities and training organisations to date have been unable to satisfy the demand for these professions. Both professions require specific skills and training, and both are labour intensive, which over time affect the individual’s ability to continue in their chosen profession. A possible solution to the ongoing shortages in these two professions can be summarised as follows:

Bricklaying

bricklayersA higher demand for this profession leads to higher wages, which has a flow on effect to the cost of building, as well as causing significant delays to the completion of building works. The work is classified as very labour intensive, with long term occupational health and safety issues showing as an average age at 38 (Job Outlook Career – Bricklayers 2019). Working long hours in all weather conditions has been shown to have adverse health outcomes, including fatigue, exhaustion and musculoskeletal strain injuries (Zhang L et al 2019). If not properly managed, these injuries can affect long term work prospects for the profession. Many workers complain they are no longer able to carry out bricklaying work and must look for alternative work, and these workers may live with long term chronic health conditions due to the nature of the work.

Managing the workload of these critical workers should be a priority for the Human Resource Manager.  To allow sufficient time for the body to recover, alternative duties incorporated into the job description, such as training, estimating or administrative duties, or a shorter work-day could be put in place.  These changes must be incorporated across the building industry, at the same time as increasing the number of apprentices to fill the hours taken in reorganising the workload of bricklayers. Over time this will mean more bricklayers will be trained, and enabling bricklayers to work longer, while minimising the number of workers leaving the industry with chronic health conditions. More must be done to encourage school leavers to consider an apprenticeship. In 2017 a study was undertaken by the Department of Jobs and Small Business which identified that 75% of employers found it difficult to find apprentices, and that 54% of employers had been approached by someone seeking an apprenticeship (Labour Market for Apprentices 2017).

Nurses

The ongoing strain on the health care industry must be addressed in order to keep our Nurses in practice. The average age of Nurses is currently shown at 41 (Job Outlook – Career Nursing 2019). An industry-wide radical change must be implemented if we are to maintain our standard of health care. Nurses are put under significant strain leading to high turnover and absenteeism in the profession.  Nurses are singled out in the top employing industries (Australian Jobs Snapshot 2019).

Nurses work in a profession that has become increasingly technical, requiring a high level of skills. Ongoing professional development must be put in place where Nurses are supported to develop their practice. The workplace culture needs to change to embrace new staff, be open to learning, and support new practices so nurses can learn the skills to carry out their profession. At one stage it was accepted that you trained as a Nurse in a hospital, and that was the end of your education. This is no longer the case. Highly skilled nursing training is carried out in universities, with the practical training being undertaken in the clinical setting. Management has identified that some of the nurses begin work and are poorly equipped to deal with the realities of the job, particularly the shift work, and the possibility of conflict with patients or their relatives.

In order to address the realities of the job, Nurses should have more time in placements, for example, in their first placement to work as an Assistant in Nursing, to receive some income and help to understand the job. For Nurses, the possibility of conflict and dangers in the workplace are real (Jones-Berry 2018). Nurse curriculum should include conflict resolution skills. Additionally, the shift co-ordinator should receive specialised training in how to deal with difficult patients or relatives, as well as co-workers. The workplace culture has a significant and ongoing effect on how employees carry out their duties. Where Nurses have a dysfunctional work culture, there are high levels of sick leave, double time and over time, placing more strain on a difficult job. In order to fix turnover and absenteeism, the work culture must be fixed.

Rostering tools are now available (although not universally used by Nurse Managers). Rostering (and re-rostering) is a complex, time-consuming exercise (Clark et al 2013). These predictive tools can identify the peak periods of demand in the workplace, and extra staff could be brought in to assist with these periods. Additionally, a typical roster can include all 3 shifts in one week in a multitude of combinations. For example, a Nurse may start their first day on an early shift, followed by two evening shifts, the fourth day could then be an early shift, followed by a night shift. The effect of shift work is universally accepted as causing adverse health outcomes (Rogers et al 2004).  A more friendly roster could start the week on 2 early shifts, followed by 2 evening shifts, and finishing with 1 late shift, more gently easing your body clock into the changing conditions.

References

Clark A, Moule P, Topping A, & Serpell M, 2013, Rescheduling nursing shifts: scoping the challenge and examining the potential of mathematical model based tools Journal of Nursing Management https://doi-org.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/10.1111/jonm.12158

 

Department of Jobs and Small Business 2019, Australian Jobs Snapshot, viewed 26 August 2019, https://docs.employment.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/australianjobs2019snapshot.pdf

 

Department of Jobs and Small Business 2019, Future Outlook – Nursing, viewed 26 August 2019, https://joboutlook.gov.au/IndustrySpecific?search=Industry&Industry=Q

 

Department of Jobs and Small Business 2019, Job Outlook – Bricklayers, viewed 26 August 2019, https://www.joboutlook.gov.au/Career?keyword=bricklayers

 

Department of Jobs and Small Business 2019,  Job Outlook – Nursing, viewed 26 August 2019, https://www.joboutlook.gov.au/Career?keyword=Nursing

 

Department of Jobs and Small Business 2019, Job Outlook – Career Bricklayers, viewed 26 August 2019, https://joboutlook.gov.au/Occupation?search=Career&code=3311).

 

Department of Jobs and Small Business 2019, Job Outlook – Career Nursing, viewed 26 August 2019, https://joboutlook.gov.au/Occupation?search=Career&code=254418

 

Department of Jobs and Small Business 2019, Labour Market Information Portal, viewed 26 August 2019,  http://lmip.gov.au/default.aspx?LMIP/VacancyReport

 

Department of Jobs and Small Business 2017, Labour market – Apprentices, viewed 26 August 2019, https://docs.employment.gov.au/documents/labour-market-apprentices

 

Jones-Berry S, (2017), Lone workers need employers to act over dangers they face. Nursing Standard32(29), pp. 12-14. doi:10.7748/ns.32.29.12.s10.

 

Rogers A, Hwang W, Scott L, Aiken L & Dinges D (2004), The working hours of hospital staff nurses and patient safety. Health Affairs 23(4), pp 202-212.

The recruitment process

Anyone who has recently been looking for work will quickly discover how difficult it is. Conversely, organisations looking for the right candidate are struggling to recruit the right person.

The process of writing the job description and advertisement for a recruit is critical to finding the right person, however, all too often the advertisement bears no resemblance to the job description and work to be carried out. This can be for a variety of reasons, including using old job descriptions, inexperience in recruitment, time constraints and outsourcing to a recruitment company.

Organisations may be time poor, but a significant amount of effort goes into the preparation of an application. It is good practice to send an acknowledgement of an application, and when the recruitment process is complete, inform applicants of the outcome. Likewise, dragging your feet in processing applications can be costly for an organisation as valuable employees may be snapped up before someone has taken the time to look at the applications or schedule interviews.

The first impressions created in the application process are also critical to developing a respectful and harmonious working relationship. If an organisation’s processes are substandard, or their website is difficult to navigate, incomplete or hyperlinks don’t work, potential employees can be turned off working for an organisation.

For the employees working in an organisation that is going through the recruitment process, they can either be supported, or left wondering when, if ever, vacancies will be filled. This puts an added (unnecessary) burden on your workers, and the longer the organisation waits to recruit, the worse the situation can get, potentially leading to more employees leaving.

A review of employment relations laws has highlighted that there has been a sharp decrease in the number of enterprise agreements in recent decades (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014). Using collective bargaining can create certainty for both employers and employees (Wilkinson 2018). The Australian Workplace Relations Survey, commissioned by the Fair Work Commission to determine employer and employee views on employment relations, found that where progressive employment practices were in place, employees were not only significantly more satisfied that in similar organisations (30%), but that there were positive economic impacts for organisations (Fair Work Commission 2016).

As new skills and experience are required to carry out the “jobs of the future”, a skills gap is forming, leaving employers wondering how they will fill positions, and employees wondering where they can get the skills they need. One thing is for sure, waiting to deal with it is exacerbating the problem. There is a real potential for organisations to upskill their workforce to meet demand “with a little coaching and the occasional counselling, (your workers) will perform to expectations” (Matthews 2018).

So, when organisations have identified a vacancy, and the job description reviewed for an advertisement, or brief sent to a recruitment company, a timeline should be created to keep the recruitment process on track. The sooner a suitable candidate is put in place, the more your organisation will benefit; from staff morale to increased organisational performance. #employer-of-choice.

References

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014, Employee, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, Australia, August 2013. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Financial Review, 22 October, 55.

Fair Work Commission 2016, Australian Workplace Relations study, viewed 20 August 2019, https://www.fwc.gov.au/resources/research/australian-workplace-relations-study

Matthews, R 2018, Precision Recruitment Skills: How to find the right person for the right job, the first time, Business Expert Press, New York. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central, viewed 19 August 2019.

Wilkinson, A. et al, 2018, ‘Taking the pulse at work: An employment relations scorecard for Australia’, Journal of Industrial Relations, 60(2), pp. 145–175. doi: 10.1177/0022185617748990.

Churn: Turnover and the reasons why people leave

Based on current literature, contemporary HR Practitioners should be more proactive with managing staff turnover, and the costs associated with the loss of employees. There can be personal reasons which are difficult to anticipate, but there are strategies available to increase the retention of employees. The cost of losing employees can be as high as 150% of their salary (Neilson 2019). A turnover rate in an organisation of more than 15% is considered too high a business operating expense (Australian Human Resources Institute 2018). Ongoing performance discussions can allow for supervisors to provide the support to employees going through difficult stages in their life.

Voluntary separations need to be carefully examined since the costs of turnover go beyond the dollar value. The external perception of the company, their corporate branding, can take a hit from a disgruntled employee or a client who has lost a valuable contact person within your organisation. It can take many years to carefully develop relationships between customers and the organisation. Since these relationships develop with your employees, these are the relationships that may suffer when someone leaves.

There are also the effects that are felt within the organisation when someone leaves. The general morale may be affected, as workload increases and corporate knowledge is lost. When someone is brought in to replace them, time must be allocated for training. This will of course mean the organisation will have to bear the cost of two employees during this transition period.

For an experienced, non-supervisory employee it was found the transition period could last 3-4 months, and the habits they found most difficult to master were being able to master new processes or systems, when to ask for help, and the need for coaching and training (Neilson 2019).

An often-forgotten strategy for employers is the exit interview. The HR Department has a critical role in having a full and frank discussion about the reasons why someone has decided to leave, and what the organisation could have done better. Human resource management systems can be an effective way to analyse data in order to implement processes to deal with high levels of turnover.

One of the reasons staff leave is the disconnect between the initial job description and responsibilities, and the actual work. Employees may feel they have been thrust into a position they didn’t sign up for or are being paid at a level which is not reflective of the work they are doing. If there was no performance management, or achievable Key Performance Indicators, there may be no clear reward for their service. If it is found that there is a substantial difference between the job description and the work, a full explanation may assist minimisation strategies.

Another reason staff leave is because the job no longer challenges them or may not provide opportunities to develop. They may not have received any career development or coaching from the organisation, leaving them feeling at best, bored, and at worst stressed. This is particularly important for high performing employees who are ambitious and looking for new opportunities.

For others, the possibility of engaging with organisations in the decision-making process is an attractive reason to stay. Where an employee may feel they have no personal agency, or their opinion is not taken into consideration, many employees feel no connection with their work colleagues, or the organisation.

An organisation that engages with its employees in decision-making and team building, will make them feel valued and appreciated, reducing overall staff turnover. Evidence shows that organisations with supportive cultures as described here, are more likely to be labelled employers of choice.

References

Australian Human Resources Institute 2018, ‘Turnover and retention report’, August 2018, viewed 4 August 2019, https://www.ahri.com.au/media/1222/turnover-and-retention-report_final.pdf?_ga=2.149213695.837933964.1564901894-1859392452.1564901894

Neilson, K 2019, ‘Turnover rates and career transitions: how much does it really cost a business?’, HRM Online, 26 July 2019, viewed 4 August 2019, https://www.hrmonline.com.au/employee-engagement/turnover-rates-career-transitions-cost-business/?utm_source=HRM&utm_medium=e%2Dnews&utm_campaign=HRM+announcement

Prepare for Change

change ahead

The advent of the digital age has brought unprecedent change to the lives of millions. For some, that change has not been a positive experience. Jayatilleke & Lai (2018) have researched the questions of what are the principal causes for change, what are the processes and techniques to deal with those changes, and how are decisions made by organisations in managing change?

It was found that regardless of what the causes of change were, effective change management is crucial to avoid the unwanted costs associated with not dealing with change.

It has been said that we are “sleepwalking into a disaster” (Nurse 2019) when he referred to the dangers of science and research being a casualty of Brexit.

The world has become a dangerous and complicated place to work, live and do business. Many find the challenges are too great and have given up, without taking into account the costs of not dealing with change.

“There is no one root cause for changes which makes change management a challenging task. Therefore, even with an abundance of research on change management, there is still room for improvement. Given the complexity of changes, it is important to identify the processes in place to manage them.” Jayatilleke & Lai (2018)

In order to face complex problems, the issue must be identified. An analysis must then be carried out to determine ways to manage the changes and estimate what the costs will be to deal with that change. In many ways the tools for analysing problems have both added to the problem but has also given us solutions. That is, data analysis is a complex and sometimes technical process, requiring people with good computer skills, but the solutions to many problems may be found in data analysis. 

Machine learning has been found to offer benefits to solve many complex issues, such as disaster management and climate change, however, people need to be upskilled to learn how to take advantage of machine learning (Peddada 2018). 

The benefits don’t stop there, machine learning has been used to manage complex health issues. Technology Integrated Health Management (TIHM) is a monitoring system that uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to be able to detect changes in normal behaviour or patient routines (Eshaeifar et al 2018).  Nurses and care workers simply do not have the time to monitor patients with the kind of detail and accuracy that is available with a monitoring system of this kind. We may not understand the algorithms or mathematical equations behind it, but this type of data collection and machine learning can be invaluable to care for patients in a non-invasive, private setting.

“The digital age is driving organisational change at an unprecedented rate. Managing the human aspects of these changes is incredibly complex and generates large amounts of data that has traditionally been hard to capture and interpret” Deloitte Managing Partner Consulting, Kaylene O’Brien, (Plus Company Updates 2019).

It was found that the five competencies critical to assisting workers move into digital transformation were: automated workflow, decision support, workforce upskilling, mobility, and change management (Train 2018).  Nowadays companies have operations all around the country, or the world. In the past this has led to bottlenecks in processes, waiting for decisions to be made, however, operational efficiency has been streamlined by the use of new technologies.

Workforce upskilling has now become critically important, and the people and organisations who embrace this changing digital landscape will achieve the greatest success (Train 2018).

References

Enshaeifar S, Zoha A, Markides A, Skillman S, Acton ST, Elsaleh T, Hassanpour M, Ahrabian A, Kenny M, Klein S, Rostill H, Nilforooshan R & Barnaghi P, 2018, “Health management and pattern analysis of daily living activities of people with dementia using in-home sensors and machine learning techniques”, PloS one, vol. 13, no. 5, p 1.

Jayatilleke S & Lai R (2018), A systematic review of requirements change management, Information and Software Technology, Vol 93, Jan 2018, pp 163-185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infsof.2017.09.004

Nurse P (2019), Paul Nurse on Brexit: ‘UK is sleepwalking into a disaster’, Nature International journal of science, 567, 18-19, 28 February 2019, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00694-w

Peddada C, 2018, Machine-Learning, Climate Change, and Disaster Management in the Philippines, Tribune Content Agency LLC, Tokyo. https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/docview/2135088778?accountid=36155&rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo

Plus Company Updates, 2019, Deloitte strengthens change management practice with The Terrace Initiative, retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA581906417&v=2.1&u=uwsydney&it=r&p=ITOF&sw=w#

Train M, 2018, “Empowering the digital workforce of the future”, Intech, vol. 65, no. 1, pp. 45.

Employment Outlook 2023

By Bronwyn Van Dam 4/6/2019

A review of the employment outlook from 2018 to 2023 compiled by the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business (2018) have some surprising (and maybe not so surprising) results.

The highest projected occupation growth from 2018 to 2023 is for Aged and Disabled Carers (39.3%). The next highest projected occupation growth is for Audiologists and Speech Pathologists \ Therapists (38.3%), and Intelligence and Policy Analysts (36.3%).

The largest projected decline of occupation from 2018 to 2023 is for Secretaries (-32.5%), Engineering Production Workers (-23.9%) and Personal Assistants (-20.5%).

A review of the occupations which have experienced significant change over the past 5 years, as detailed in the Australian Jobs – Occupation Matrix (2019), found that the largest increase by occupation was for Psychiatrists (128.83%), followed by Anaesthetists (104.89%) and ICT Support and Test Engineers (100.47%).

Research carried out by Weldon (2015) showed a projected dramatic increase in the number of pre-school and early childhood students up to 2025 placing significant pressure on states and territories to source skilled teachers for the foreseeable future.

There is also an overall trend towards employing more workers in Information Technology, Hospitality (cooks, chefs and bakers), and Entertainment industries.

With the rise of the GIG economy and new industries emerging, if you’re looking for a career change, now might be the time.

References

Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, 2018, Employment Outlook to May 2023, Labour Market Information Panel Viewed 3 June 2019 http://lmip.gov.au/default.aspx?LMIP/GainInsights/EmploymentProjections

Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, 2019, Australian jobs – occupation matrix, viewed 3 June 2019. https://docs.jobs.gov.au/documents/australian-jobs-occupation-matrix

Weldon, PR (2015), The teacher workforce in australia: supply, demand and data issues. Policy Insights, Issue 2. Melbourne: ACER.

OccupationalProjections2023

 

 

Our data is creating bias

By Bronwyn Van Dam 24/3/2019digital_identity

Filter bubbles are defined as algorithms that use things, such as which computer you are using, the type of browser, your location and even where you are sitting, to create personalised queries in your internet searching (Pariser 2011).

The problem with this type of filtering is that the results of our searches do not necessarily provide us with the important information we need nor information that challenges our own ideas (Pariser 2011). This creates a skewed view (an echo chamber), which can have a negative bias towards other ideas, and Pariser considers there is a need to control the filter bubble.

The tendency of Google to personalise information only reaffirms our own belief system (Curkovic 2019, p. 323), and Facebook has long been known for prioritizing content based upon our preferences (Nechushetai & Lewis 2019, p. 298). The algorithms used for the information provided to us through the search engines should be doing more than creating a feedback loop of our own filter bubbles. Coders of the algorithms used to provide the personalised search results, should also encode a sense of ethics, of the responsibilities, for a sense of the civic life, and they should be transparent, so we know what gets through the filters, and what doesn’t (Pariser 2011); we therefore need to have more control over our data.

The perception many people have of us is shaped by our online identity: not only what we post on the internet, but also what other people share with us. For example, if someone sees a feed shared to our social media of a controversial topic with a specific argument, we could be perceived as accepting that view. A bias is created (albeit by association).

Since the traditional news publishers are being replaced by Google and Facebook, the news channels that use algorithms are aware of how our content is being manipulated, creating a bias. It is all the more important for an informed citizen to receive more diverse information from a variety of news providers (Nechushetai & Lewis 2019, p. 304).

The use of machine learning algorithms by government and law enforcement can likewise create institutionalised bias in our judicial system. The algorithms used in the analysis of big data can be used to discriminate against certain communities, based on a variety of traits, including gender, race or age (Brayne 2017, p. 981). How our world is shaped by big data and the analysis of that data is largely invisible to the average person (Marquis 2003, p. 240).

The capture of personal information has often been touted as being necessary for our own protection, however privacy issues continue to play a part in government decision making processes (Cavelty & Leese 2018, p. 61). I believe it is important to look to the private sphere, where our data is being used. The algorithms that have been developed are not made available for public scrutiny. As our society continues its rapid transformation into the digital realm, we must continue to question what is more important: security or privacy?

References:

Brayne, S 2017, Big data surveillance: The case of policing, American Sociological Review vol. 82, pp. 977-1008. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122417725865

Cavelty M & Leese M 2018, Politicising security at the boundaries: Privacy in surveillance and cybersecurity, Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich.

Curkovic, M 2019, Need for controlling of the filter bubble effect, Science and Engineering Ethics Journal, vol 25, Issue 1, p. 323. DOI:https://doi-org.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/10.1007/s11948-017-0005-1

Marquis L 2003, ‘Privacy and Security’ in Lyon, D (ed.), Surveillance as social sorting: Privacy, risk, and digital discrimination, Routledge, London and New York, pp. 226-248.

Nechushetai, E & Lewis, S 2019, What kind of news gatekeepers do we want machines to be? Filterbubbles, fragmentation, and the normative dimensions of algorithmic recommendations, Computer in Human Behaviour, vol. 90, pp. 298-307.

Pariser, E 2011, Beware online ‘filter bubbles’, TedX Talk

 

Millenials: the new best hope for the future

By Bronwyn Van Dam 8/3/2019

Google

I take issue with a 2017 video of Simon Sinek about the generation known as the “Millenials”. He made sweeping statements that they are self-interested and unfocussed. In contrast, Kim et al (2018) has found that what they have termed the “Netgeneration”, are more focussed on “product variety, feedback, responsiveness, personalization, acceptance of complaints, and enjoyment” in their shopping choices.  Having a shop which provides responsiveness and an acceptance of complaints is in my opinion a good thing. Having a company that listens to your feedback and is interested to know what you want means they will get more business. The dinosaur businesses who continue to do business the same way, year after year, are also the businesses that are unable to compete. The millenials are doing us a great service in making a difference, and perhaps their “impatience” noted by Sinek (2017) encourages positive change.

During the 2015 US Presidential election campaign, the Huffington Post ran an article that the Democratic nominee, Hilary Clinton was aligning herself with Millenials since they were tech-savvy, and wanting to make a difference. This countered the opinion that Republicans saw younger voters as “out of the mainstream” (Fineman 2015).

On the one hand Sinek (2017) tells us that this new generation is lazy and tough to manage, while others see them as the new best hope for the future; classified as everything from “technology-obsessed, anti-social and naïve” to a “magical unicorn” (Bak 2015).

I guess we can all complain about our poor parenting. Each generation has a different complaint. The fact remains that we are moving into a rapid period of change, and having a group of people who are able to navigate this new digital landscape can only be a good thing, and if we make some positive change, make a real difference, and get some free food along the way, who am I to complain?

Bak, K 2015. Millenials: Everyones favourite magical unicorn …and scapegoat. Blog retrieved from https://medium.com/@whoiskat/millenials-everyones-favorite-magical-unicorn-and-scapegoat-405640781ca0

Fineman, H 2015. Hillary Clinton is pitching herself to millenials. Huffington Post. Retrieved from:  https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2015/05/19/hillary-clinton-millennials_n_7310016.html

Kim, D and Ammeter, AP 2018. Shifts in Online Consumer Behavior: A preliminary investigation of the net generation. Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, 13(1), pp. 1-25.  Retrieved from: https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/docview/2036395522/abstract/632389F0B98147ABPQ/1?accountid=36155

Sinek, S 2015. Millennials in the workplace (2016) http://bit.ly/2zed5Pf 

Identity – digital, national & international

 

By Bronwyn Van Dam 2/3/2019Placeholder ImageI am convinced that creating and maintaining an online identity, or “digital” identity can be a way of providing a sense of surety, that who you are talking to, is actually the person you think it is. You “trust” that the online identity is a real person, not a hijacked version of someone.

I agree with the decision in October, 2017 of the Australian government at the Council of Australian Governments to the creation of Facial Recognition Databases. The information would be stored in databases for use by our police force, border force, customs and immigration. However, third parties, such as banks and other financial institutions will also have access to the databases, on the proviso that they “contribute their clients’ biometric data” (Meares, 2018). This raises the concern that having databases such as these will diminish our right to privacy.

I noticed that in the Asia News Monitor newspaper in October, 2018, reported that the Australian government continued to expand on computer user identification.  We all recognise the convenience of accessing government services, banking, shopping, or making travel arrangements online, and we all recognise that there is a need for “high-quality and secure digital services” (Asia News Monitor, 2018).  The new myGovID would utilise the 100 point identification recognised across Australia, but would also integrate a photograph using a mobile phone camera. Pilot programs were undertaken to create extra levels of security for our digital identity. By mid-2019 it is expected that 8 pilot programs will be completed to provide the digital IDs to state and local governments, and approved private organisations.

Our digital identity has now become a legal concept, mainly used to make transactions, using our names, date of birth, a signature and perhaps a personal identification number (PIN) (Sullivan, 2018). The government uses this information to ensure that one person is one identity, in an effort to minimise financial and welfare fraud. My digital identity provides the authentication, for a transaction, then verification provides an assurance of who you are. The first e-residency program was recently adopted by Estonia. It has developed “the first government-authenticated and operated international digital identity program for individuals who are neither Estonian citizens nor residents” (Sullivan, 2018). Estonia uses blockchain technology to provide identity authentication for its citizens, and now for e-residents. I think this kind of e-residency could be extended, so that we could have an international identity, trusted and secure.

I agree with Bilgic’s (2014) opinion that our identity provides a level of trust, and that “without a system of trust – individuals act in accordance with their self-interests”. Further, Bilgic (2014) argues that the new countries of migrants feel a level of insecurity, where it is perceived that certain groups’ interests do not align with their new country, “particularly immigrant populations with high in-group solidarity”. Certain groups within an immigrant cohort, have a national identity based on their ‘traditions’. I believe others may feel more secure knowing that an individual has their own international identity, rather than an individual who is part of a national identity.

 

References

Asia News Monitor (2018). Australia: digital identity explained.

Bilgic, A. (2014). Trust in world politics: converting ‘identity’ into a source of security through trust-learning. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 68(1), 36-51.

Meares, M. (2018). Mass Surveillance and Data Retention in Australia: Balancing Rights and Freedoms. Journal of Internet Law, 21(10), 3-6.

Sullivan, C. (2018). Digital identity: From emergent legal concept to new reality. Computer Law & Security Review: The International Journal of Technology Law and Practice, 34(4), 723-731.

Living, Learning and Working on the Web

By Bronwyn Van Dam 16/2/2019

There is a risk of allowing tech companies to have too much power over our lives. This is highlighted in the online course from Microsoft through edX called “Ethics and Law in Data Analytics”.

Individuals could be denied access to services, or suffer from discrimination, based on machine learning algorithms, and may never know why they were refused services. Algorithms can be developed with human bias, and as machine learning and AI is developed by private companies, there is no transparency of what the algorithms are or how someone has been discriminated against.

The law is always lagging behind new technology. There is insufficient legislation to protect individuals. Our online social media profiles may inadvertently be creating a bias based on our behaviour.