Older workers in Australia: the myths, the realities and the battle over workforce 'flexibility'

Kossen, Chris and Pedersen, Cec (2008) Older workers in Australia: the myths, the realities and the battle over workforce 'flexibility'. Journal of Management and Organization, 14 (1). pp. 73-84. ISSN 1833-3672

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A decisive 2004 fourth term win for the Howard Government and control over the Senate provided the Australian government with a mandate to further deregulate the labour market in the name of ‘flexibility’. This conceptual paper uses a critical perspective to challenge the wisdom of neo-liberal market economics as the driving force behind the rapid expansion of non-traditional ‘flexible’ forms of work and argues that this kind of divestment strategy can produce negative long term consequences including under utilisation of labour and skill shortages stemming from a lack of investment in human capital. While an ageing workforce is set to intensify labour shortages long into the future, the Howard Government has adopted modest measures designed to counter age based discrimination and encourage workforce participation. However, participation rates among mature age workers in Australia have remained one of the lowest among OECD countries. This paper argues that the Government’s labour market deregulation policies are reducing the availability of jobs that provide sufficient working conditions and remuneration to make workforce participation attractive to many of those who are not working. The erosion of employment conditions associated with ‘flexible’ workforce reform can lead to underemployment and other employment outcomes that often fail to meet the needs of disadvantaged groups in the labour market. More recently, however, the Government has embarked on reforms that appear to provide genuine incentives aimed specifically at attracting workforce participation by older workers, but only for those aged 60 years and over.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published version deposited with blanket permission of publisher. EP 1756 has same text with different title presented at ANZAM.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Business - School of Management and Marketing
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2008 05:45
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 23:06
Uncontrolled Keywords: older workers; mature age workers; aged workers; ageism; ageist; stereotypes; labour market deregulation; industrial relations reform; workforce flexibility; human capital investment; industrial relations; workplace relations; WorkChoices
Fields of Research : 16 Studies in Human Society > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160512 Social Policy
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150306 Industrial Relations
14 Economics > 1402 Applied Economics > 140209 Industry Economics and Industrial Organisation
Socio-Economic Objective: B Economic Development > 91 Economic Framework > 9102 Microeconomics > 910202 Human Capital Issues
Identification Number or DOI: 10.5172/jmo.2008.14.1.73
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/4399

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