4160.0 - Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/10/2001   
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Contents >> Chapter 6: Work >> Population groups

Population groups


Labour force participation and working experiences differ for men and women, particularly in association with different life cycle stages. While there have been changes in the kinds of jobs held by women, occupational segregation remains a feature of the work force. Apart from reflecting differences in preferences, the concentration of men and women in particular occupations and industries can be related to a number of other factors such as attitudes towards expected roles of men and women. There is an interest in challenging occupational segregation, particularly where traditional occupations for women attract low levels of remuneration. Another key issue is the existence and extent of any earnings differentials between men and women doing the same job.


Lone parents may be more vulnerable to the problems associated with unemployment. Without the support of a second parent, these people may be struggling to adequately fulfil both the role of parent and of breadwinner in the family. In meeting this need, they may need to take lower paying part-time jobs. Unemployment and the loss of income associated with unemployment may be particularly damaging to the financial stability of these people and their families.


Immigration has played a major role in the growth of Australia's population and economy and a major issue relating to migration policy continues to be its impact on the labour force. The wellbeing of migrants themselves, in terms of work, is also of concern. Recent migrants may have valuable educational qualifications but find it difficult to obtain work in relevant fields due to cultural or language difficulties. Finding appropriate work within an Australian workplace can be an important factor in determining how positively these people perceive their move to Australia, and how well they are able to adjust to their new environment and provide support for their families.


The extent to which individuals are able to participate in work can be substantially affected by physical, psychological or intellectual impairments, and there is a need to ensure people with different types and levels of disability have access to suitable employment opportunities. How well working arrangements within different jobs are able to meet the needs of people with disabilities is also of interest. For example, physical aids may be necessary to ensure people with disability are not disadvantaged in the workplace, as well as flexibility in working arrangements and expectations.


Changes in the types of industries and jobs that dominate the labour market, changes in processes within industries, and a possible lack of transferable skills, have meant that older people may have more difficulty finding work. As a result, people from some industries or occupations are over-represented among older jobseekers. Other issues for older jobseekers are their relative success in obtaining work compared to young jobseekers. The reasons why more older people are seeking early retirement, and the social and economic implications of this are also of interest.


While large proportions of young jobseekers gain employment relatively quickly, establishing successful pathways for young people from school or tertiary education into paid employment is a recurring issue. There is interest in understanding factors associated with success in securing work (e.g. education and previous work experience), and in providing young people with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully obtain work. These issues are particularly relevant in an environment of rapidly changing technology and working arrangements. Young people who leave school early may be able to find work while their lower rates of pay are attractive to employers, but may be at a disadvantage as they become eligible for adult wages.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people generally experience considerably higher levels of unemployment than the total Australian population. One factor contributing to this is the scarcity of employment opportunities in remote locations. Others include the adequacy and cultural appropriateness of educational facilities available to Indigenous people, and the low level of educational qualifications often held by Indigenous people. In recognition of the particular difficulties faced by people living in remote areas the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme has been operating since 1977. This scheme provides Indigenous communities with funds to pay members working on community projects, in effect providing jobs for people who would otherwise receive an unemployment allowance. CDEP is particularly important in remote areas where it accounts for a large proportion of all jobs held by Indigenous people.

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