Mr Ruvthen, founder and director of business analytics firm IBISWorld, said the term ’employee’ emerged with the industrial age in the 1860s but working conditions had changed dramatically since that time.
“The history of employment over the last few hundred years has been one of gradual increase in degrees of freedom,” Mr Ruthven said.
Now, younger generations are less inclined to seek guarantees around job tenure and the idea of a ‘job for life’ has disappeared.
“People themselves want to move on…you are more in control of your own destiny,” Mr Ruvthen said.
“It is going to be more like a business-to-business relationship rather than like a master-servant relationship which we have now”.
Mr Ruvthen, who started IBISWorld in 1971 and built it into an international provider of business information, released his second book last December.
The book, The Future For Our Kids, draws on IBISWorld’s decades of analysis of industries in Australia and around the world to examine topics including the rise and fall of industry and the future of employment.
Mr Ruthven says his company’s data shows the cycles that occur in business.
“The growth and decline of industries are shown abundantly clearly,” he said.
And he says future generations will scoff at the thought of someone being called an ’employee’.
“It’s the last vestige of slavery,” he said.
Mr Ruthven takes an optimistic view of the working future for Australians, in part because of the opportunities that will come as our population ages.
“We’re not going to run out of work because of ageing, and we’re not going to run out of jobs – we never ever do,” he said.
“Something like three million of the jobs we’ve got in Australia didn’t exist in 1965 at the end of the industrial revolution,” he said.
Mr Ruthven also sees outsourcing – usually seen as a job destroyer – as the single biggest driver job creation.
“It’s been going on for hundreds of years,” he said.
“We would never have had an agricultural industry, for example, if people were still asked to grow their own food, and milk their own cows.”
Mr Ruvthen said agriculture is likely to boom again, with huge demand from Asia, and hundreds of billions of dollars being poured into it but thinks services will be the single biggest industry in Australia by the end of the century.
“Every five years we’re creating six times more than the amount of jobs we’re losing,” he said.