How Sydney's latte line is splitting the workforce
Advertisement

How Sydney's latte line is splitting the workforce

Sydney’s ''latte line'' divides the city in more ways than just hipster coffee and takeaway chicken, with white-collar work shown to be concentrated above the line.

The 'latte line' is an imaginary boundary that splits Sydney down class and economic lines, running from the airport north-west through Parramatta.

A paucity of public transport options running south to north of the line slows connections to white collar jobs, defined as managers and professionals, research from Western Sydney University shows.

North Sydney had the highest rate of white-collar jobs at 65 per cent of workers, while less than 10 per cent of people working there did blue-collar or manual work, 2016 Census data shows. The highest rate of blue-collar jobs, defined as labourers, machine operators and tradies, was in western Sydney at Erskine Park where 60 per cent of people did blue-collar work and just 17 per cent were employed as managers or professionals.

Associate Professor at Western Sydney University Chyi Lin Lee said white-collar jobs, in general, are concentrated in the north and east of the city in places such as North Sydney, Macquarie Park and Norwest Business Park, while blue-collar jobs are mainly located in the south and west.

Public transport connections from south to north are poor, which hampers access to many white-collar jobs, Prof Lee said.

Advertisement

“Managers and professionals who live in the south and west of Sydney are likely to have longer commute times to work,” Prof Lee said.

While there are some medical precincts and higher education precincts offering white-collar work in the south and west, many more people are employed in blue-collar jobs in these areas, he said.

Dr Dallas Rogers from the Sydney University school of architecture, design and planning said the schism is partly caused by a lack of infrastructure and urban planning that has kept industrial land in some areas while allowing it to be changed in others.

"One of the things about the latte line debate is the kind of assumptions that white-collar jobs are better than blue-collar jobs and that we should have white-collar jobs in western Sydney and perhaps blue-collar jobs somewhere else," Dr Rogers said.

"We need infrastructure that supports white-collar jobs, which means everything from business parks to transport nodes that can get people to them as well as pathways to get people into those jobs."

The State Infrastructure Strategy, released in March, aims to create three "30-minute cities" with high-quality jobs around areas such as the Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis in south-western Sydney, NSW planning minister Anthony Roberts said.

"Transport will play a key role in the development of high-quality jobs in both the western and central cities by developing fast and frequent radial public transport connections to both those cities," Mr Roberts said.

The new metro train line will link north-west and south-west Sydney in 2024.

A "City Deal" signed by the eight councils in western Sydney and the Commonwealth Government also aims to rebalance jobs and housing across the city.

"Using the new Western Sydney Airport as a catalyst, all three levels of government are working to build more high technology jobs, leveraging proposals for defence and aerospace investments around the airport," Mr Roberts said.

University of Western Sydney lecturer in human resource management Dr Youqing Fan said there is a division in job concentration along the latte line in Sydney, and it matches patterns seen around the world.

Migrants from rural regions who move to cities in China mostly live in segregated areas far away from the city centre and major employment hubs, which costs them extra money and time to commute to their workplaces and also limits their employment options, Dr Fan said.

A north-south rail link from the new Western Sydney Airport "may run from St Marys to Badgerys Creek, connecting to the existing T1 Western train line", with $35 million allocated to "planning and the final business case" for it, a NSW planning spokesman said.