This report investigates the degree to which participation in the labour force may increase with the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the increased telework opportunities it will provide. This study involved qualitative and quantitative research, leading to economic modelling to estimate the impacts of NBN-enabled telework on labour force participation, employment and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the Australian economy.
Economic modelling findings
• The economic modelling found that NBN-enabled telework may create 25,000 additional jobs in full- time equivalent terms by 2020-21. Around 10,000 of these jobs will be created in regional Australia.
• The NBN is expected to create 16,000 to 18,000 construction jobs at the peak of the NBN rollout (around 13,000 in FTE terms). The results in this report suggest that through telework, the NBN will create twice many jobs- on an ongoing basis - resulting in an increase in labour force participation. This is a significant result.
• While there is uncertainty about precisely how telework will evolve in the Australian economy in the coming decade, the results of this study suggest it will be one of the biggest structural changes to the labour market this decade.
• GDP is expected to be $3.2 billion higher in 2020-21 and $8.3 billion higher in net present value for the period 2012-13 to 2020-21.
Qualitative and quantitative research findings
• A surprisingly high proportion of mature workers reported that they already have a formal telework arrangement with their employer (16% of people in the labour force nearing retirement age). In addition, 13% of part time and casual employees reported already having a formal telework arrangement.
• Sixty per cent of mature workers reported they would take up telework if it was available to them and as a result delay retirement by an average of 6.6 years - this is a notable result given the ageing of the population and the impact this will have on overall participation rates.
• Seventy-three per cent of part-time workers reported they would take up telework if it was available to them, and 68% were somewhat willing, moderately willing or very willing to change the industry in which they worked in order to access telework.
• Seventy four per cent of people not in the labour force with family or carer responsibilities reported they would take up a telework employment opportunity if one was available to them.
• Sixty-six per cent of people who were not in the labour force with a disability would take up a telework employment opportunity if one was available to them.
• Seventy per cent of people not in the labour force living in regional/remote locations of Australia reported they would take up a telework employment opportunity if one was available to them.
Report by Colmar Brunton Research and Deloitte Access Economics for the Commonwealth of Australia as represented by the Department of Broad, Communications and the Digital Economy.