Event held on July 01

Lost Jobs: The Changing World of Work

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Event runs from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Refer calendar for future dates


Have you ever heard of a ‘nightman’, a ‘scoop boy’, or a phrenologist? How about a ‘fairy tapper’, a telegrapher, a ‘dolly boy’ or a lumper? All these jobs were once common, but have disappeared completely. Many jobs have vanished in Victoria over the years, while others have emerged, sometimes in completely new industries. The world of work is always changing. Rural jobs dominated Victoria’s workforce until the late-nineteenth century. Pastoralism, farming and mining employed large numbers of men and, in the 1880s, powerful unions formed to represent them. In Melbourne and the larger regional towns the workforce was dominated by the construction industry, transport and an expanding manufacturing sector, much of which clustered in central Melbourne and the inner suburbs. Almost all of these jobs involved hard, physical labour. While some workforce change is gradual, other events can have a swift and devastating impact. Victoria experienced several severe economic recessions in the past – in the 1840s, 1890s and 1930s in particular. Economic restructuring and changing global markets decimated manufacturing in the 1970s and 1980s, then the public sector in the 1990s, while the impact of the long demise of the car industry is still being felt. In place of a once-thriving manufacturing sector, many now work in the service sector and the so-called ‘gig economy’, where insecure, poorly-paid, casual and part-time work predominates.