Male unemployment set to soar unless action taken, academic says.

The number of South Australian men in full-time employment threatens to fall to levels not seen since the 1990’s recession unless urgent investment is made to replace jobs in manufacturing, a Flinders University workplace expert says.

Professor John Spoehr said 337,000 men were in full-time employment as of October – 27,900 fewer than the SA peak eight years ago and approaching the 317,000 who were in full-time work during the ’90s recession.

“Male full-time employment has collapsed in South Australia, largely as a consequence of manufacturing, mining and construction jobs losses,” said Prof Spoehr, the director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute.

“It is set to get much worse if we don’t boost investment in job-rich projects very soon.

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“We can compare it to the very difficult times we went through in the 1990s when there were mass retrenchments in manufacturing.” He said SA was faced with the “diabolical” situation of entering 2017 with male unemployment at 7 per cent and full-time employment growth in reverse.

By comparison, female full-time employment has increased by 8300 in the past eight years, in line with growth industries such as health, education and aged care, administration and retail trade.

But Prof Spoehr said many of those jobs were casual, part-time and not as well paid as manufacturing jobs. ABS figures show that 5000 more men defined themselves as underemployed than at the same time eight years ago.

Prof Spoehr said SA needed more projects of the scale of the $985 million Northern Connector road project – which has started construction – to try to soften the blow from the closure of Holden and associated component suppliers. “The end of 2017, the start of 2018 is going to be the difficult time, when the automotive impacts really reach their zenith,” he said.

He said state and federal governments must fast-track projects worth $1 billion to $2 billion in the next few years to boost the engineering and construction sector and contain job losses.

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