Barriers to employment for marginalised mature age workers
Speech by Chris Kossen, Lecturer, University Southern Queensland
Sociological PhD Research
Supervisor: Dr Roger Wilkinson
James Cook University (Cairns)
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Slide 1: Outline: Topics for discussion
- Developments in labour market trends: impacts on mature age (or older) workers
- Barriers to employment: (marginalised) mature age jobseekers
My research: including personal challenges faced by mature age workers participating in interview based research
Regional Queensland centre - Toowoomba
Slide 2: Age Discrimination in Employment
Appears to be a key issue of our times
- Recessions, economic downturns
- Reform, restructuring, downsizing
- 1970s, 1980s & 1990s
Redundancies targeted older workers
However a long history exists over a century eg. USA (Segrave)
Slide 3: Early Redundancies based on:
Distorted/inaccurate perceptions by employers of older workers as:
- slower & therefore less productive
- more prone to accidents & illness
- less trainable
- less flexible
- leave jobs sooner (closer to retirement)
Slide 4: Despite contrary productivity data
National & international research shows that productivity among mature age workers compares favourably to younger counterparts
- Higher levels of accuracy (less error)
- Less time off (sick)
- Lower (staff) turnover
- Loyalty & commitment: " work ethic "
- etc .
Slide 5: Employments Prospects:
- Gaining & maintaining
- sufficient & secure employment
- suitable / quality employment
- Access to training & development
- Opportunity: advancement & promotion
Mature age workers have been over-represented in unemployment statistics along with youth both are regarded as being non-prime age
Slide 6: Decade of change & growth
- Strong jobs growth
Large drop in (official) unemployment rate
- Mature age workers no longer feature as a problem group in unemployment statistics
Considerable progress in combating ageism!
- anti-discrim laws, education & awareness promotion .
- changing Human Resource Mgt practices, tax incentives
Slide 7: Mature age more vulnerable to:
- Hidden unemployment
- Underemployment: casualisation of labour
temp & contract labour
- those ineligible to register unemployed welfare
- Underemployment: casualisation of labour
- Long-term unemployment
Marginalisation is contingent (many are far from being marginalised)
Slide 8: Major Research Theme
- Difficulty re-entering work & gaining comparable work - once displaced
- Many leave secure work due to stress/ful environments (eg. subjected to bullying )
- Shock : never had difficulty getting work
- Some - regret leaving
- Find their ' profile ' is not an ' easy ' fit
Slide 9: Confirmatory evidence from literature
Phenomenon: scarring of profile (ABS) eg. downsizing: city dairy factory workers
- Profile: limited experience & education
- Phenomenon: churning (ABS)
- Cumulative disadvantage: s carring very long-term unemploy/separation
Slide 10: Common Financial Stressors Identified:
- Children dependant longer (mid-20 ' s)
- Divorce: depletion of wealth ( eg. house)
- Child rearing later in life ( eg. 2 nd marriages)
- Disrupted work: to care for ageing parents
- Financial setbacks (business failure)
Growing need self-fund extended retirement
Slide 11: Some personal costs
- Subsistence/frugal living: no coffee shops!
- Poverty: use of assistance from charities
- Depriving children
eg. fashion, McDonald ' s, sport, music .
- Loss of confidence (parents & children)
- Loss of "sense of purpose" despair
- Isolation (cut-off), alienation, depression
Slide 12: Some findings of interest:
- Pressures to be a " compliant worker "
- Age & Resumes ( shaving off the years )
- The " financially secure " vs " the poor "
Beneficial Coping Strategies
- Realising importance: to manage stress, motivation, etc .
- Taking on meaningful activity eg. exercise
- Ability to appreciate positive aspects of life
Slide 13: Some Key Aims
Explore ' traits ' among participants
- Identify useful & unhelpful coping strategies
Phase 2: Participatory Action Research
- Work collaboratively ' select ' participants to help develop higher levels of awareness about their life situation and
- Assist them to plan & act more strategically in coping with their circumstances: reflective
Slide 14: Theories on stereotyping
Ideal Types Schutz (1970) Lakoff (1987)
Ease by which things are brought to mind
- A Bird
- A " Policeman " **
- A " Male " Nurse
- A " Female " Doctor
Slide 15: Dominant Deficit Model
To construct dominant social understanding as:
- less than " normal "
- less than " full " = " substandard "
- " incomplete "
- " deficient "
Linguistically marked: " older " worker
Slide 16: Biased Mental Models
Distort: ' because there are valid grounds for supposing some workers.. ' (Harris 1991
Resist contradictory data: easier to accommodate contradictory data, than to revise established thinking structures
Self-fulfilling & Perpetuate: restricts opportunities for learning & development
- effectively out-dating one ' s skill set
Slide 17: Health & Life Span Research supports:
Biology places limits on life-span but the social world also .
imposes limits on what is biologically possible .
In other words, society determines how long and in what manner the individual organism shall live "
(Berger & Luckmann 1966:202)
Last updated 18 May 2005.