Browsing Vol. 36 No. 3 2010 by Title
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ItemThe Change in Labour Skills in Australia over the Business Cycle(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2010) Kelly, Ross; Lewis, PhilipThis paper presents an analysis of skill change for each of several skill dimensions for Australia for the period 1991 to 2006. This period is of particular interest since it covers three phases of the business cycle - recession, full employment and excess demand. The pronounced shedding of low skill workers and increased demand for skilled workers observed in many countries over the last two decades has been attributed to a number of different causes. In this paper the attributes of different occupations are used to obtain measures of distinct skill dimensions - motor, cognitive and interactive, plus education. The results indicate that there were very significant changes in skills mix during the three phases of the business cycle. The mean level declined for motor skills but rose for the other dimensions, particularly interactive. The results have important implications for policy, particularly in relation to employment, unemployment and training. ItemFlexicurity: What is it? Can it Work Downunder?(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2010) Belchamber, G.From the late seventies, neo-liberal economic prescriptions for labour market reform held sway across the English-speaking advanced economies. The neo-liberal view was that employment security came at the expense of labour market flexibility, and retarded economic dynamism. Today, the Great Recession has blown asunder the claim that deregulated labour markets generate more jobs. It is clear that flexible wages and scant unemployment benefits do not automatically clear the labour market. The Nordic and western European nations never fully embraced labour market fundamentalism. Their distinctive alternative policy - 'flexicurity' - targets both flexibility and security, combining decent work in lightly regulated labour markets with active labour market programs and generous unemployment benefits. By adopting a social insurance model, Australia can raise significantly the income support available to unemployed workers and underpin national economic dynamism with robust flexicurity architecture. An increase in the Superannuation Guarantee provides a tractable, efficient and effective way to do this. ItemGot a Lot o' Livin' to do: Opportunities for Older Workers in the Global Financial Crisis(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2010) Mountford, H.The 2009 downturn in the Australian economy brought on by the global financial crisis (GFC) caused many businesses to review staff levels in an effort to reduce costs. But unlike previous recessions, large scale restructuring and retrenchments were less common in favour of retaining skilled staff on reduced working conditions, such as fewer hours. Many employers suffered from skills shortages only a year before. At the same time research began to show that many baby boomers wanted to continue working beyond the early retirement age preferred by previous cohorts, and could fill the skilled worker gap. But older employees, having other demands on their time, want more job flexibility and less responsibility or work pressure. Since the GFC more older workers need to stay at work to improve their retirement funds. The changed working conditions brought on by the GFC will, coincidentally, attract older workers probably more than other cohorts, giving both older workers and employers greater flexibility, while retaining valuable workplace experience. ItemSymposium 1: Fair Work Australia's First Minimum Wage Decision: Context, Impact and Future(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2010) Healy, Joshua Gregory ItemSymposium 2: Minimum Wage Setting under Fair Work Australia: Back to the Future?(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2010) Harper, I.; McKibbin, R.Fair Work Australia (FWA) recently handed down its first minimum wage decision - a $26 per week increase. Although the decision emanated from new legislation, which explicitly references fairness and living standards of the low paid, both the decision and the process by which it was reached closely resemble those of its predecessor, the Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC). It is possible that this resemblance will diminish over time as interpretation of the legislation evolves. But the fundamental need to balance employment and income effects of minimum wage adjustments may lead FWA to deliver similar decisions to the AFPC's notwithstanding the different emphasis in its legislation. ItemSymposium 4: Australia's Other Two-Speed Economy: Gender, Employment and Earnings in the Slow Lane(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2010) Jefferson, Therese; Preston, AlisonTalk of a 'two-speed economy' was prevalent in Australia in the first half of 2010. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry argued against a significant increase in the minimum wage on the basis that most minimum wage earners were employed in the 'slower' sectors of the Australian economy, where employers could not afford increased employment costs. This article considers the recent Fair Work Australia wage decision in the context of the argument that Australia has a two-speed economy. Using earnings and employment data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, we find that it is possible to identify significantly different patterns to the earnings outcomes experienced within specific sections of the Australian economy. There are some clear 'tracks', particularly between men and women in the private sector. The data suggest that the recent minimum wage decision will play an important role in countering labour market inequities, particularly those that are evident in Australia's gender pay gap. Further work remains to be done, however, and the forthcoming equal remuneration case will provide a further opportunity for Fair Work Australia to contribute to gender pay equity in Australia. ItemSymposium 5: An American Perspective on the 2010 Increase in the Australian Minimum Wage(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2010) Burkhauser, R. ItemSymposium 6: The Annual Wage Review 2009-10 of the Minimum Wage Panel of Fair Work Australia(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2010) Brown, W. ItemSymposium 7: The Fair Work Australia Minimum Wage Decision Viewed From Afar(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2010) Sloane, Peter JThis paper attempts to put the minimum wage increase into an international context and in particular to focus on the special provisions relating to disabled workers. It is suggested that consideration be given to the inter-relationship between the special provisions and other policies directed at the disabled.