F Future Work, Future Communities Adelaide Workshop | 2023

Future Work, Future Communities Adelaide Workshop Proceedings, 4-6 July 2023

On a wintry Adelaide day, the Future Work, Future Communities project welcomed international and interstate visitors to Pridham Hall at the University of South Australia’s City West Campus. We were pleased to host many esteemed academics and industry leaders at this event, which was designed to both share emerging research and develop the agenda for the final year of the project.

On Day 1 of the Workshop, Associate Professor Sally Weller and PhD Candidate Mr Lionel Pengilley presented their findings on labour branching after plant closure and noted that when workers shift into new employment most move to similar or related work that is often downstream of their previous role.

Professor Andrew Beer from the University of South Australia then presented a summary of what we have learned from three rounds of longitudinal data, including that there is a pressing need to assess outcomes against the benchmarks established in a Just Transition in order to have a full picture of impacts on workers.

Next, the University of South Australia’s Dr Lynette Washington presented research on the views of community leaders in the regions impacted by industry closures. Findings included that women leaders identified gendered differences in leadership, and that place attachment generated an important opportunity to enhance local leadership practices.

Following Lynette, Professor David Bailey from the University of Birmingham in England discussed the complexities of navigating a post-carbon economy in left-behind regions. David noted several policy implications, including the failed coordination of industrial policy, the value of a collaborative approach, and the importance of industry diversification and lifelong training for workers.

Professor Markku Sotarauta from the Tampere University then presented his work on the local capacity to act and why some localities succeed and others fall behind. Markku provided evidence from Finland that structures and change agency need to adapt to emerging situations rather than remain static.

University of South Australia PhD candidate Ms Kathryn Anderson’s presentation focussed on the importance of viewing innovation precincts as assemblages rather than agglomerations in order to allow attention and resources to respond to innovation and entrepreneurship.

Mr Jacob Irving, the Future Work, Future Communities Project Officer at the University of South Australia, presented findings from the project’s discrete choice experiment which indicate that workers have strong preferences for autonomy and respectful workplaces, rather than a particular type of work.

Interspersed between the presentations were three panel discussions, the first of which was chaired by Mr Ross Womersley (Chief Executive Officer of the South Australian Council of Social Services) and included Mr Mark Semmens (Department of Employment and Workplace Relations), Professor Markku Sotarauta (Tampere University), and Dr Susan Stone (University of South Australia). The second panel discussion was chaired by Associate Professor Sally Weller (University of South Australia) and included Professor David Bailey (University of Birmingham), Dr Gemma Beale (Australian Industrial Transformation Institute) and Associate Professor Ilke Onur (Flinders University). The final panel was chaired by Professor Marie Wilson (University of South Australia) and included Professor Julie Ratcliffe (Flinders University) and Ms Sally Hardy (Regional Studies Association). All panel discussions generated lively debate on the papers presented as the discussants incorporated the broader perspectives that their personal expertise carried.

Days 2 and 3 of the Workshop were held at Mt Lofty House in the misty and atmospheric Adelaide Hills. During these sessions, several of the project’s Chief Investigators, the project team, and invited guests discussed progress to date and engaged in strategic and budget planning for the remainder of the project. In addition, Ms Sally Hardy, Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Studies Association (United Kingdom) presented an insightful and up-to-the-minute summary of new and emerging trends in academic publishing in light of the advent of open access publishing arrangements.

The 3-day Workshop was roundly celebrated for being expertly planned and managed by the Adelaide-based project team, led by Ms Josefina Atienza. Participants noted the substantial progress to date, as well as the imperative to continue to diligently attend to project targets to ensure that locally and internationally relevant research outcomes and industry impacts are delivered.