Vol. 34 No. 1 2008
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ItemSkill: An Elusive and Ambiguous Concept in Labour Market Studies(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2008)The concept of skill and its measurement has been central in contemporary discussions of labour market issues. Such issues as the rise in earnings inequality and changes to the skill composition of employment have served to highlight the limitations of definitions of skill and the problems that these pose for analysis of labour market changes. This paper argues that current measures of skill contain numerous limitations and ambiguities. Part of the reason is that the concept is complex and ill defined. This paper suggests that a more robust and detailed definition of skill is imperative. Furthermore, definitions and measures of skill used in the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) provide an advanced and more useful background for skill measurement and analysis than current measures. Such an approach would be beneficial to adopt in Australia, as it would provide a broader, more accurate and detailed understanding of the nature of occupations, issues related to skill and skill shortages, and labour market change.
ItemLabour Force Projections: A Case Study of the Greater Metropolitan Area of New South Wales(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2008)There is a fundamental gap in our understanding of the complexity and uncertainty in projecting and analysing the supply of labour at a regional level, due mainly to the lack of longitudinal data and difficulties in determining suitable models for prediction. This study takes the Greater Metropolitan Area (GMA) of New South Wales as a case study to investigate feasible methods of projecting a regional workforce. It derives information about trends in employment and workforce status in the GMA from national and state level time series data. Growth curve models are then used to project rates of age-sex specific workforce participation, and the ratios of full-time and part-time employment. Our analysis demonstrates that the growth curve models and direct projections of workforce elements, especially participation rates, can provide effective methodologies and techniques to project the future labour supply at aggregate or regional levels. It provides specific results and conclusion for the GMA. These results have implications for labour supply in Australia generally.
ItemJarhead and Deskilling in the Military: Potential Implications for the Australian Labour Market(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2008)This paper uses a popular culture medium to examine the notion of deskilling in one particular sector, viz., the military. Jarhead was released to cinemas in 2005 and follows the experiences of United States Marine, Anthony Swofford, in the first Gulf War of the early 1990s. We witness the central character undergo intensive training to become one of the Marine's highly skilled employees - a sniper. We observe Swofford and his colleagues' increasing frustrations with their inability to 'ply their trade'. While the sniper was a highly skilled, indeed elite, fighter in earlier conflicts, technological developments have left this skilled artisan as a bystander in modern set-piece warfare. This paper adds to our understanding of the tensions between traditional skilled occupations and technological development, in addition to the tensions between military skills and non-military employment. Using the Hollywood movie Jarhead as a lens, the audience witnesses the manner in which technology leads to a divergence in workplace skills. Finally, this paper considers the implications for the Australian labour market.
ItemFighting Back: Workplace Sexual Harassment and the Case of North Country(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2008)Sexual harassment in the workplace has been documented as a widespread and damaging phenomenon. Less well examined, however, are the tactics used by perpetrators to inhibit outrage about the harassment or the counter-strategies which can be used by women to oppose these tactics. This study, using the framework of backfire theory (Scott and Martin 2006), explores how a victim opposed sexual harassment in the film North Country (2005). In the course of her employment, the main character in the film, Josie Aimes, and her female co-workers, were subjected to systematic and brutal sexual harassment ranging from name-calling to physical sexual assault. Consistent with backfire theory, the analysis revealed five specific strategies used by the perpetrators to inhibit outrage: cover-up, devaluation, reinterpretation, intimidation and use of official channels, as well as anti-harassment strategies that attempted to make these tactics backfire. The findings have implications for educating and empowering women to actively stand up to and oppose sexual harassment in the workplace.
ItemInformation Privacy and Employee Records in Australia: Which Way Forward?(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2008)In 2000, the Howard Liberal-National Coalition Government enacted the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act. This Act exempted employee records from privacy protection, and was justified by the Government on the ground that employee records protection was better addressed under workplace relations legislation. In February 2004, after much criticism of the exemption, the Government initiated a review of employee records privacy; the closing date for submissions was 16 April 2004. Since that time, the Howard Liberal-National Coalition Commonwealth rewrote industrial relations legislation, excluding any reference to employee records. In addition, there has been a lack of papers published since the 2004 inquiry despite heightened activity by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner; the exception being the recent review undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) (2007). We argue that the Government's approach to the regulation of workplace privacy was inadequate. Consequently, it is appropriate to revisit this issue and remove the employee records exemption, replacing it with a more robust framework of protections.
ItemThe Extent and Nature of Exits From the Disability Support Pension(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2008)This study uses administrative records for recipients of the Disability Support Pension (DSP) over the period 1995 to 2002 to investigate the extent and nature of exits from DSP, with particular emphasis on exits due to take up of employment. The analysis shows that, consistent with the long-term nature of the DSP payment, all exits in a given year amount to less than 10 per cent of the total number of DSP recipients in that year; and of these, only one-quarter are exits off all income support payments - that is, non-death non-transfer exits. Furthermore, over 50 per cent of the DSP recipients who make the transition off payments return to income support within two years. We further find that the rate of non-death non-transfer exits declines with the time on payments, and that it is also lower for older DSP recipients and those who transferred to DSP from unemployment benefits.