Beyond robots and foreigners: finding blue-collar Australian jobs

Do you fear losing your job? Not “think it would be inconvenient”, or “prefer not to because I like the team and there’s a great coffee shop around the corner from the office”, but actually fear it?

There are plenty of working men across Australia who do. They lie in bed in mortgaged homes in small towns and far-flung suburbs and run through the sums: how long could we last if I got laid off? Which bills would come due first, and how would we pay them?

I don’t think urban white-collar workers really understand this fear. If we lose our jobs, the chances are we’ll get another pretty good one. Maybe with a longer commute or a boss who is less sympathetic to Friday early marks, but another good job nonetheless. Few among us genuinely worry about being unemployed and unemployable in the years to come.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten during a visit to the Arrium steelworks in Whyalla, SA, in 2016.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten during a visit to the Arrium steelworks in Whyalla, SA, in 2016.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

This real, gut-twisting fear of joblessness came into sharp focus for me when I visited the South Australian town of Whyalla two months after its largest employer, the Arrium mine and steelworks, entered administration in 2016.

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