‘Tick-and-flick’? Mature age jobseekers’ experiences of employment services

Date 21 May 2015

Dr Dina Bowman and Dr Michael McGann

The Intergenerational Report forecasts a doubling in the number of Australians aged 65+ and a decline in the working age population by 2055.

In an effort to extend working lives, the Australian Government is increasing the pension eligibility age, which will rise to 70 by 2035. Nevertheless, there is a growing number of mature age Australians on Newstart Allowance and high rates of long-term unemployment among older Australians.

Policy responses to mature age unemployment have predominantly focused on increasing the employability of older jobseekers and creating incentives for employers to recruit and retain older workers. The role of labour market intermediaries such as employment services in supporting workforce participation by mature age Australians has received insufficient attention.

This paper examines the role and effectiveness of Australia’s employment services system in supporting mature age jobseekers, who are becoming a key client group. Drawing upon an ARC funded Linkage study with NATSEM, BSL, Jobs Australia, University of Melbourne and Curtin University, we consider how systemic issues related to the deprofessionalisation of frontline workers and routinisation of service delivery have been experienced by older jobseekers. We consider the distinctive circumstances and characteristics of mature age jobseekers compared with other client groups and the capacity of services to adapt to rising numbers of mature age jobseekers.

Dr Dina Bowman is a senior manager in the Research and Policy Centre at the Brotherhood of St Laurence, where she currently leads the teams that study the risks associated with the transition through school to work and in and out of work. She is a partner investigator on the collaborative study of workforce vulnerabilities in mid-life and beyond. Dina is also an honorary fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Dina’s research focuses on work and economic security and the conceptualisation of social problems.

Dr Michael McGann is an ARC Research Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. He is part of a team at the University of Melbourne, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Curtin University and NATSEM working on a study of workforce vulnerabilities in mid-life and beyond. Michael’s research focuses on the relationship between workforce participation and disadvantage. In addition to examining issues of unemployment and underemployment among mature age workers, this has included studies of insecure work among rural Victorians and the barriers to participation experienced by people with mental illness. 

Download Dina Bowman and Michael McGann's presentation » (PDF file, 1.4 MB)

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