Sustainability approach is a capacity of biological systems, which need to be productive and dynamic in the long time period. The sustainability includes the principles for the development having various interrelated areas like culture, economics, ecology and politics (Jain and Jain, 2013). There are many issues evolving continuously and bringing a challenge to the sustainability. From these various issues, many scholars and economist states some of the issues as wicked problems as they cannot be appropriately defined and the final solutions cannot be taken out. Due to this, the interest of all stakeholders here is optimal. The wicked problem is always having complex approaches and algorithms with the dynamic changing requirements. For anyone who wants to reach to a solution or develop any solution, it is necessary to change the traditional way of thinking and improve the mental model (Weber and Khademian, 2008). Therefore, the system thinking comes here which help an individual or a business enterprise to develop a model, which can help in facing the solutions to the sustainable challenges.
System thinking can be defined as an inter-disciplinary framework that is used to check the interrelationships in the patterns of the elements and aspects rather than the static snapshots. It also consists of people, structures and processes, which play a significant role in making a business enterprise healthy or unhealthy (Ben and Orion, 2010). Even though system thinking is a very old concept, it can help in understating the issue from various angles and achieve the existing complex problems on both levels i.e. local and global. It is a procedure for development planners to give their views towards systematic integration of economic and socio-environmental dimensions of sustainability. This approach helps in leveraging organisation complications as compared with other methods (Evagorou et al, 2009). System thinking approach also helps in understanding the broader picture of the problem through making interactions with various elements.
Through the study, it can be said as wicked problem never exists in isolation but it is impacted by a vast system of interconnected networks and therefore, it plays an important role in finding out the solutions for the problems (Head, 2008). In addition, the main principles of system thinking are the emerging technologies, innovative and creative ideas, leadership and human resource and these all help in removing the wicked problems.
The purpose of this essay is to find out the role of system thinking in the wicked problem relating to Australia ageing workforce. This statement can be also agreeable that ‘system thinking is important in planning keys for the sustainability challenges’.
In Australia, one of the major wicked problem is the increase in the number of aged people in the country impacting the overall Australian economy with their projections (Chittleborough et al, 2007). Australia population will both grow strongly and became older and this makes baby boomers move to the old age. An ageing workforce will be having a significant effect on the labour supply, government expenditure, economic productivity and requirement in infrastructure. By 2060, the population of Australia is projected to rise by 38 million whereas the people having aged 75 or more are expected to rise by 4 million from 2012 to 2060 (Hughes et al, 2011). The reason is the high decrease in the birth rates since the late 1960 and as the people are living longer and getting older, the life expectancy rate is increasing i.e. from 78 to 83 (2043) according to the report given by Intergenerational in 2002 (Kendig, 2010).
The current projections in the demographic change of an ageing Australia are – The ratio of the population aged over 65 years could rise from 12 to 18 per cent by the year 2021, which means by 2051, it will reach at 26 per cent (Laidlaw and Pahana, 2009). According to these projections, it can be said that, in fifty-year time, one-quarter of the population will be aged 65 years and over.
The ageing Australian workforce will leads in Second World War baby boom as due to the declined in the birth rate (Doepke, Hazan and Maoz, 2015). In 1965, since the end of the baby boom, fertility rates were also declining. This shows that now Australians will be having longest life expectancies in the world. For example, an Australian girl born between 1996 and 1998 can be expected to live an average 83 years and a baby who is born in the same time period can be expected to live 78 years.
On the positive aspects, the increased in the longer life expectancy shows that there is an improved in the living standard of peoples with the healthier lifestyles and also advances in the medical field. On the contradictory, during the first half of the Twentieth Century, the increase in the rate of life expectancy was majorly due to the rapid deterioration of the infant and maternal mortality.
Older Australians who belong to cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds are increased as a proportion of the older population (Warburton and McLaughlin, 2007). In the near future, the number of people ageing with a long-term disability is also expected to rise.
The ageing of the workforce in Australia is occurring at the same time when social, economic and technological changes are taking place at a faster pace. Change in the family structure is the part of the social change that can affect lifestyle issues and retirement incomes. In addition, the rise in the baby boomers and the attributes of this generation will shape a new definition to the old age. The reason is that the baby boomers will enter in the old ages with dissimilar prospects and objective.
In the past, Australia has shown an excellent capacity to respond to change by reforming to the plans and policies to meet out the various needs by taking early action as a proactive role.
The effect of the increasing aged workforce of Australia will have a significant effect on the various areas like organizations, government and economy. From organization perspectives, they will have a shortage of capable and skilled workers and so they will not able to expand or diversify their business effectively (Daly et al, 2012). From government and economy perspective, the impact of aged workforce will directly affect their budgets and fiscal policies. The expenditure part of the government budget will be increased on aged care facilities and hospitality and thus the portion of the budget for the economic development will be lower down i.e. capital disinvestment (Byers, 2018). These factors will lead to slowing down the economic growth.
The aged workforce of Australia also leads to change in the taxation policy of the government as due to its connection with the people who are paying taxes. In other words, the amount of money given to the retired people will be increased and this makes government to increase the taxed, which needs the approval of the Australian people who are paying taxes.
The government expenditure will be affected from the other side too as they have to spend on the health care services in terms of innovation, more facilities need to be provided for the aged workforce like aged care facility, efficient transportation policy so that they can get access in getting all types of service easily (Owens, 2008).
The government of Australia comes up with a solution of immigration policy, which can help them in keeping the balance in the ageing population. However, it is not the long-term solution as the aged population is affected by many factors including fertility, mortality, overseas migration and interstate migration as all jointly contributed to the overall change in the average age of a population (White, 2007). There is a need to expand the difference between the levels of mortality and fertility. Australia National policy such as shift to skilled migration programme and the rise in the number of global students have been proved an effective way in slowing down the rate of population ageing for Australia but not necessarily for the regions like Tasmania.
The ageing people also have an impact on the labour market. Before in the 20th century, many Australian old males worked until near death and enjoy a brief retirement, and in that era workforce, ageing did not have much effect on the total male labour supply. However, today, it is anticipated that many males participate in the formal labour force for approx. less than half of their 80-year life expectancies. Their focus is now on the age from 20 to 55 years. If this pattern goes continue, then the shift in the age structure of the population will be toward the perception of lower labour market involvement. If the other things kept equal, there will be a slow supply of labours, which directly affects the economic growth.
An ageing workforce will also have other market consequences like the characteristic of today generation workers will be different against middle-aged and younger workers (Magee, Caputi and Iverson, 2011). Like, the experience they persist is high rather than less educated and receiving less training and the productivity that they have is high than most of the younger workers but slightly less so than middle-aged workers.
Therefore, for fighting ageing Australia, the National Strategy has been developed so that to provide a coordinated national response to the issues and serve as a strategic framework with the leadership role in the development of effective social and economic policies.
Up to now, a well economic management and strategic long-term thinking have helped Australia to position itself into both meetings the challenges and putting thoughts into actions.
The objective of the National Strategy for an Ageing Australia is to give the best results and outcome for all Australians regardless of age. It serves as a framework to the national response consisting various challenges and opportunities. It can also be called as a vehicle for a continuous leadership by the Commonwealth government in engaging the Australian community on this important issue (Armstrong, 2007).
This National strategy helps the Australian government in removing various barriers and get opportunities like migration policy, controlling birth rates etc.
The document of the National Strategy gives a descriptive information b prioritizing various issues providing the relevant solution and also by analysing the trends. The strategic framework of the National Strategy helps in making future guidelines and policy in many broader areas. Some of the strategy made under this is intended for the specific area like society, government and business. However, due to the changing environment, the government also established a systematic monitoring process so that it a fit with the changing needs of the human behaviour and environment.
On the basis of above details, it can be said that system thinking is significant for dealing with the challenges of sustainability. In this changing dynamic environment, there is a need for a new method and solutions with various critical approaches which can help in finding the relevant key areas.
In this study, one of the solutions was the migration policy but for the long-term perspectives, it cannot stand being called as a fruit-full solution.
If Australia wants to maintain its high-level economic performance, they need to focus on the changing economic environment and its aspects. Government also need to take the help of both micro and macroeconomic policies else it will become an economic problem in itself. Such rearrangements will need long-term perspectives and various critical issues also need to be addressed like – appropriate age for the retirement, what health care benefit should to the retired peoples, plans and policies related to global migration and labour force participation.
In last, Australia National strategy can also help in framing effective and efficient policies regarding the issue of an ageing workforce. This becomes part of the National strategy as there is a direct impact on the growth of the economic development and growth. These strategies are made in the light of all relevant areas like society, environment, government, and global policies. This will also include a systematic evaluation plan, which monitors this plan at every stage of implementation.
This wicked problem very complex and so it will take a long time for the government to address the right mitigation tool and measure. Up to then, loosening of the migration policy is the only way.
Armstrong, B.K., Gillespie, J.A., Leeder, S.R., Rubin, G.L. and Russell, L.M. (2007) Challenges in health and health care for Australia. Medical Journal of Australia, 187(9), p.485.
Ben?Zvi?Assaraf, O. and Orion, N. (2010) Four case studies, six years later: Developing system thinking skills in junior high school and sustaining them over time. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(10), pp.1253-1280.
Chittleborough, C.R., Grant, J.F., Phillips, P.J. and Taylor, A.W. (2007) The increasing prevalence of diabetes in South Australia: the relationship with population ageing and obesity. Public health, 121(2), pp.92-99.
Daly, R.M., Gagnon, C., Lu, Z.X., Magliano, D.J., Dunstan, D.W., Sikaris, K.A., Zimmet, P.Z., Ebeling, P.R. and Shaw, J.E. (2012) Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its determinants in Australian adults aged 25 years and older: a national, population?based study. Clinical endocrinology, 77(1), pp.26-35.
Doepke, M., Hazan, M. and Maoz, Y.D. (2015) The baby boom and World War II: A macroeconomic analysis. The Review of Economic Studies, 82(3), pp.1031-1073.
Evagorou, M., Korfiatis, K., Nicolaou, C. and Constantinou, C. (2009) An investigation of the potential of interactive simulations for developing system thinking skills in elementary school: A case study with fifth?graders and sixth?graders. International Journal of Science Education, 31(5), pp.655-674.
Head, B.W. (2008) Wicked problems in public policy. Public policy, 3(2), p.101.
Hughes, B.B., Kuhn, R., Peterson, C.M., Rothman, D.S., Solórzano, J.R., Mathers, C.D. and Dickson, J.R. (2011) Projections of global health outcomes from 2005 to 2060 using the International Futures integrated forecasting model. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 89, pp.478-486.
Jain, P. and Jain, P. (2013) Sustainability assessment index: a strong sustainability approach to measure sustainable human development. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 20(2), pp.116-122.
Kendig, H. (2010) The Intergenerational Report 2010: A double?edged sword. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 29(4), pp.145-146.
Laidlaw, K. and Pachana. (2009) Aging, mental health, and demographic change: Challenges for psychotherapists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40(6), p.601.
Magee, C.A., Caputi, P. and Iverson, D.C. (2011) Relationships between self-rated health, quality of life and sleep duration in middle aged and elderly Australians. Sleep medicine, 12(4), pp.346-350.
Owens, G. (2008) Gender differences in health care expenditures, resource utilization, and quality of care. Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, 14(3), pp.2-6.
Warburton, J. and McLaughlin, D. (2007) Passing on our culture: How older Australians from diverse cultural backgrounds contribute to civil society. Journal of cross-cultural gerontology, 22(1), pp.47-60.
Weber, E.P. and Khademian, A.M. (2008) Wicked problems, knowledge challenges, and collaborative capacity builders in network settings. Public administration review, 68(2), pp.334-349.
White, R. and Tadesse, B. (2007) Immigration policy, cultural pluralism and trade: Evidence from the white Australia policy. Pacific Economic Review, 12(4), pp.489-509.
Byers, S. (2018). Western Australia’s Age Services Excellence Recognised at Inaugural Awards. Available from https://lasa.asn.au/news/western-australias-age-services-excellence-recognised-at-inaugural-awards/ [Accessed 03/09/2018].