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

Article


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. https://doi.org/10.5172/jmo.2008.14.1.73
Article Title

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

ERA Journal ID35911
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsKossen, Chris (Author) and Pedersen, Cec (Author)
Journal TitleJournal of Management and Organization
Journal Citation14 (1), pp. 73-84
Number of Pages12
Year2008
Place of PublicationMaleny, Australia
ISSN1833-3672
1839-3527
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.5172/jmo.2008.14.1.73
Web Address (URL)http://jmo.e-contentmanagement.com/
Abstract

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.

Keywordsolder 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
Related Output
Is identical toMyths and realities: a critical expose of older workers and industrial relations reforms in Australia
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020440712. Social policy
350504. Industrial and employee relations
380109. Industry economics and industrial organisation
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Humanities and Communication
School of Management and Marketing
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