Posts Tagged “grey nomads”
A federal government program designed to get older Australians back into work has been branded a dismal failure, with only 1700 people joining the scheme meant to benefit 32,000.
Department of Employment documents reveal just 1735 people took advantage of the Restart scheme in its first year of operation – about 5 per cent of the government’s target.
Announced with much fanfare in the 2014 budget, the program provides a wage subsidy of up to $10,000 to employers who give jobs to people aged over 50 who have been unemployed for more than six months.
Labor said the program is clearly missing the mark. Advertisement “It’s the government’s program that needs a restart as it’s proving to be a dismal failure,” opposition spokesman Brendan O’Connor said. “No amount of rhetorical flourish from the Prime Minister can hide the real reason the program doesn’t work – there simply are not the jobs available.”
But Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the government remains “firmly committed” to the program, which is part of a $1 billion investment to establish a single wage subsidy pool.
She said the program has now helped a total of 2500 mature-age workers, including those helped since July 1. “Restart is a demand-driven programme and the government budgeted for a maximum uptake of 32,000,” she said.
Nonetheless, Ms Cash has announced changes designed to improve uptake. The subsidy will now be paid over 12 months rather than 24 and other measures have been taken to reduce complexity and red tape.
Older workers face significant barriers to entering the workforce. On average, they spend 61 weeks on the unemployment queue, compared to 37 weeks for all other people.
“That is why Restart was developed, to give an added incentive to employers to hire a mature-age worker,” Ms Cash said. Both major parties have long struggled to encourage employers to hire mature-age Australians. Indeed, just 230 employers took advantage of a $1000 annual subsidy under the two-year life of the Rudd/Gillard government’s Experience+Jobs Bonus scheme, which was also designed to get over 50s into work. It was meant to benefit up to 10,000 employers.
Source: The Age/Adam Gartrell
Forty-seven per cent of jobs in the US will be overtaken by computers in the next decade or two, according to research.
Robots and computer programs could almost wipeout human workers in jobs from cooks to truck drivers, a visiting researcher has warned.
Driverless cars and even burger-flipping robots are among the technological advancements gunning for low-skilled jobs across dozens of industries.
University of Oxford Associate Professor in machine learning Michael Osborne has examined the characteristics of 702 occupations in the US, predicting 47 per cent will be overtaken by computers in the next decade or two.
University of Oxford Associate Professor in machine learning Michael Osborne. Photo: Supplied
Those most at-risk jobs are in accommodation and food services (87 per cent of workers at high risk of being replaced), transportation and warehousing (75 per cent) and real estate (67 per cent).
By contrast, only about 10 per cent of workers in the information sector, software developers and higher level management were at risk of automation.
Professor Osborne said machines and computers still struggled with creativity, social intelligence and the manipulation of complex objects, making jobs with high requirements in these areas less vulnerable to robotisation.
“What unites all those bottlenecks [in computer ability] is kind of a deep reservoir of tacit knowledge humans possess that’s not readily reproducible in software,” he said.
“For example, in order to be creative, you need to understand the creative values of the society in which you find yourself.
“It’s very easy to design an algorithm that endlessly churns out paintings or pieces of music but it’s very difficult to get that algorithm to distinguish between good pieces of music and bad pieces of music.”
While the results, which Professor Osborne had been reproduced with similar results in the UK and Scandinavia, are bad news for individuals, they don’t necessarily predict a sky-rocketing unemployment rate as machines take over the workforce.
History is full of examples of machines replacing workers.
At the start of the 20th century about 40 per cent of US workers were in agriculture. That’s now about two per cent but the unemployment rate has remained relatively steady.
The invention of the car savaged jobs in the horse transport industry but gave rise to tourism and all the jobs that come with it.
In the early 19th century the Luddites rioted against labour-replacing machinery in the English textile industry, coining a name for someone resistant to change.
“These people weren’t irrational. There were genuine risks to their jobs,” Professor Osborne said.
“And while overall in the end unemployment wasn’t affected, there certainly were very severe negative consequences for those workers in the short term.
“I think the story here is fairly similar actually that in the end, yes we may see new forms of work generated but it’s not clear that the kind of people who are put out of work, which I said ought to be those at the low-skilled end of the spectrum, are necessarily going to be those that move into those new forms of work.”
Technology will need to become more user-friendly and create new kinds of jobs given there would always be a resistance to its adoption, Professor Osborne said.
But Hollywood’s imagery of terminators and other self-aware robots wreaking havoc was not a healthy narrative to consider, he said.
“In the long term yes, we will see machines that may be potentially so intelligent as to have goals that aren’t consistent with our own and there might be consequences of that,” he said.
“But I think in the near term the larger question is that of employment really, and how people’s work might be affected by increasing automation.”
Professor Osborne is in Brisbane to speak about the future of work at the Queensland University of Technology on Tuesday.
He said many newly created industries such as software development and big data analysis weren’t creating as many jobs as thought but renewable energy industries were booming in the US and said Australian governments should be fostering similar innovation.
“There’s not a single silver bullet solution to this issue but investing in those new industries is certainly an important plank,” he said.
– With AAP
Source: Brisbane Times
A former Centennial Coal employee who was retrenched from the Myuna colliery at Lake Macquarie claims he has lost two thirds of his entitlements due to his age.
64 year old Greg Davey lost his job 18 months ago and under the Black Coal Mining Industry Award is not entitled to full redundancy because of his age.
The Human Rights Commission has referred the matter to Fair Work Commission to determine if there has been a breach of the Age Discrimination Act.
Greg Davey said he worked for the company for 31 years and has been left financially and emotionally devastated.
“It feels devastating for me because I didn’t intend to retire in the foreseeable future and having my working life cut short was a hell of a blow,” he said.
“It affected not only me but my whole family.
“I got paid approximately a third of what I was entitled to, so I missed out on two thirds of exactly what I’m entitled to.”
In a statement Centennial Coal says the matter involves questions of law.
Centennial says the matter was heard in the Federal Court on February 9 and Centennial is now awaiting the decision.
Source: ABC News
This week’s unemployment data caused quite a stir, with some observers making a hasty link between the number of Australians joining the jobless queues, and the number of migrants still pouring into the country.
Monash demographer Bob Birrell led the charge, arguing in the Fairfax press that “… the number of overseas-born persons aged 15 plus in Australia, who arrived since the beginning of 2011, was around 709,000. Most of these people are job hungry.
“According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force Survey, 380,000 of these recent arrivals were employed as of May 2014. Over the same three years, the net growth in jobs in Australia is estimated by the ABS to have been only 400,000.
“This means that these recent overseas-born arrivals have taken almost all of the net growth in jobs over this period. They are doing so at the expense of Australian-born and overseas-born residents who arrived in Australia before 2011.”
Yikes. Pull up the drawbridge. Sound the alarms.
Well not quite. Drawing a direct link between migration and jobless numbers is far more problematic than that.
The motivation for Birrell’s line of attack is clear, and quite worthy – namely that we have a youth unemployment crisis, and an under-employment crisis more generally, with welfare benefits putting an increasing burden on the federal budget.
All quite true. All very alarming.
However the matching up of the jobless numbers with the immigration numbers paints a false picture.
More importantly, this kind of assertion can easily be mis-used by populist political forces to stir unrest in the community and unfairly paint migrants as a burden on the economy when they are nothing of the kind.
The logical disconnect is found when one considers what kinds of job openings exist, where they are located and the willingness of ‘pre-2011’ Australians (to use Birrell’s distinction) to take them.
The two charts below reveal a lot about the distribution of work around the country, and the trends in the amount of work available overall since the beginning of phase one of the GFC in late 2007. (Note that the final two quarters of the second chart rely on population estimates, as the ABS has not yet published March and June 2014 figures).
The first chart shows only how the gross number of hours worked in each state has grown in the past seven years. WA seems to be romping along, just ahead of the NT, with both being well ahead of the clustered Queensland, Victoria and NSW.
However, this picture is misleading, as it does not capture population movements. WA’s population, for instance. has grown an astonishing 21 per cent in seven years, which means its nation-beating growth in hours worked is spread across a population that is 445,000 people larger.
The second chart, therefore, shows how the number of hours of work available averages out over a state’s population. Tasmania, as will surprise few, has a far lower number of hours worked per resident each month (60 hours) compared with WA (82 hours).
That’s not surprising as WA is still enjoying the jobs created by the construction phase of the resources boom (though that will moderate in the months and years ahead).
Most interesting, however, is what Tasmania was doing just three years ago when its average hours worked per resident was continuing to slide – from about 65 hours at the start of the GFC to 62.5 hours in April 2011.
Even without taking population movements into account, the total monthly hours-worked figure (see first chart) showed no increase through the four years of GFC.
So what was the Tasmanian government doing at that time? It was, in fact, running roadshows around recession-ravaged Ireland, hoping to recruit a range of skilled workers to start a new life in the Apple Isle.
As Business Spectator reported at the time, Tasmania was looking for workers in “medical and allied health, engineering, hospitality, urban and regional planning, agricultural science and metal fabrication and trades such as automotive mechanics, plumbing and electrical”.
Were they mad? Surely they could have recruited thousands of such workers from Melbourne, Sydney or Perth?
Angela Chan, national president of the Migration Institute of Australia says that’s just not true. Employers in regional and remote Australia find it extremely difficult to fill positions with workers who have families, homes and lives in our capital cities – cities that house the unusually high figure of 85 per cent of our population.
MIA is the umbrella group for migration agents in Australia, so there is an element of “they would say that wouldn’t they” – especially as Scott Morrison begins investigations into how migration visas have been misused or rorted in the past few years.
However, the explanation Chan gives gels exactly with stories many regionally-based MPs have told this columnist over the years – it is sometimes easier to employ Korean workers or recently arrived refugees in Alice Springs hospitality jobs than Australians. Or to employ Iraqis to pick fruit in Shepparton, for instance.
The allure of such roles for established Australians is just not there – as evidenced by the Gillard government’s rather fruitless attempts to coax youngsters out of capital cities with bonuses and relocation payments.
What makes a direct link of migration and jobless numbers most worrying, according to Chan, is that towns that don’t have medical staff, accountants, engineers or other skilled workers are hobbled economically – the businesses that would otherwise employ the low-skilled, or even many other classes of skilled workers, don’t get going.
Viewed in this context, it can be argued both that we have a huge unemployment problem to solve, and that it will only be made worse by choking off skilled migrants who are just as prepared to set up house in Bendigo or Mount Gambier as Melbourne or Adelaide.
That is not to argue the all skilled migrants are wanted or needed – just that there are good reasons to keep the flow higher than many would assume in hard times (An awkward time to mention migration, July 8).
The government will have a hard time explaining that to voters, however, as the body set up to advise on such subtleties, the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, was one of the first agencies it scrapped on coming to power.
But there is a lot more to the migration-jobs nexus than meets the eye.
Author: Susan Ryan
Susan Ryan, Age Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, calls on insurers to design new, accessible and affordable products tailored to older Australians.
Whether they’re contributing to the workforce, volunteering their time, or travelling the world, older Australians are an active bunch and increasingly so. Yet all these activities may involve risk, and with risk comes the potential need for insurance.
In my role as Age Discrimination Commissioner, I hear many stories from older Australians who have had trouble securing affordable insurance or finding any suitable insurance product at all. A lack of insurance has limiting and negative effects for older Australians.
Income protection insurance often cuts out at age 65, yet many older Australians are capable and want to work well beyond that age.
It was announced in the recent budget that by 2035, Australians will not be eligible for the age pension until they turn 70, so working to that age will become the reality for many. Also, organisations that rely on volunteers buy group insurance, but it may not cover older volunteers. Travel insurance premiums increase with age, but it’s important that they are not so prohibitively high that older Australians would be tempted to travel uninsured.
Failing to provide insurance to older people or charging higher premiums is not necessarily unlawful discrimination. The Age Discrimination Act, which is the general protection that all people have against discrimination on the basis of age, has an exception for insurance. Insurers can discriminate based on age as long as the difference in treatment is based on actuarial or statistical data, or is otherwise reasonable.
Despite this exception, I have been making the case to the insurance industry that better, more accessible information about available insurance products should be provided. In addition, I can see a strong business case to be made to insurers to design new products that are tailored to seniors, and are accessible and affordable.
While the industry is considering these messages, the voice of older Australians who themselves are seeking a good deal on insurance products add to my advocacy. Older Australians can shop around for insurance and find the best product available to them.
Finally, if you think you have been discriminated against by an insurer, you are still able to make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission, who can investigate and attempt to resolve your complaint.
You can get further information by calling 1300 656 419 or visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.