WHEN Marie* graduated with a teaching degree in 2014, she couldn't wait to have a class of her very own.

But four years on, the New South Wales-based 27-year-old is still waiting for that dream to become a reality.

That's because Marie is one of the thousands of Australian teachers who can't find full-time positions, instead relying on inconsistent casual work to make a living.

"The pay is fairly good as a casual teacher, but it's unstable - one week I might work all five days, while the next I might only get a day or two or even nothing, so it's very hard to budget and plan ahead," she told news.com.au.

"I'd love to buy a house and settle down, and start building up my career and make connections with my students and other teachers, but at the moment it's impossible when I'm moving around from school to school all the time.

"It's really demoralising to be honest. I'm even thinking about getting out of the industry because it's so frustrating."

But Marie's situation isn't limited to the teaching profession.

In fact, for the first time in Australia's history, less than half of us are in permanent, full-time work - and we're missing out on essential rights and benefits as a result.

That's the sobering findings of the Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work, which has just analysed Australian Bureau of Statistics data to reveal only 49.97 per cent of all jobs in this country are permanent and full-time with normal leave entitlements and benefits included.

In 2012, it was 51.35 per cent.

And in that same five-year period, the percentage of part-time jobs rose to 31.7 per cent, the highest it has ever been.

Centre for Future Work director and economist Dr Jim Stanford said the data had uncovered a "worrisome overall trend" towards "exploitative temporary situations" in this country, and that insecure work was now the "new normal".

"There has been an expansion of insecure and non-standard work of different forms, with more part-time work, more casual work and more temporary, irregular work where people don't know their hours week to week," he said.

"There's a growing trend of independent contractors formally defined as self-employed and running their own business, but in fact they depend on a company for pretty much all their income - and that includes people working in the gig economy like Uber and Deliveroo drivers.

There's a “worrisome overall trend” towards “exploitative temporary situations” in this country. Picture: Centre for Future Work
There's a “worrisome overall trend” towards “exploitative temporary situations” in this country. Picture: Centre for Future Work

"Suddenly, traditional jobs with regular hours that are permanent and come with basic entitlements like paid holiday and sick leave are now the minority, and insecure work is the norm. It's kind of snuck up on us as the traditional model is whittled away on so many sides."

Dr Stanford said while some Aussies chose to freelance or work on a contractual basis due to the freedom and flexibility it offered, many more were stuck in insecure work out of necessity and not by choice.

"Some people appreciate the flexibility but many more people prefer to have a regular salary on the whole," he said.

"The growth in different forms of insecure work reflects a labour market in which employers hold most of the cards.

"Australia is a bit of an outlier compared with other countries. The incidence of temporary work is higher in Australia than any industrial country, so there's nothing natural or inevitable about it."

Dr Stanford called for tighter regulation to protect vulnerable workers, including "gig workers" who he said deserved minimum wage and other entitlements just like every other worker.

"We used to think part-time work and casual gigs were something we could do for a while before eventually getting a permanent job, but now we need to realise those permanent jobs are a shrinking minority unless we do something about it," Dr Stanford said.

"It's a wake-up call to think about what we can do to strengthen labour market conditions so employers don't have a pool of desperate workers who will take any job, no matter how insecure."

- Name has been changed to protect the individual's identity

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