Limited access to employment services hurts vulnerable laid-off workers in Australia


06/04/2016 - Australia should provide early access to more intensive employment services for disadvantaged laid-off workers to help them find a new job more quickly, according to a new OECD report.


Back to Work: Australia says that 2.3% of Australian workers with at least one year of tenure are laid off each year as firms close or downsize. The share of workers who find a new job relatively quickly is rather high, standing at 70% within a year and 80% within two years, partly reflecting Australia’s flexible labour market.


Most laid-off workers receive relatively little re-employment support in the first instance and only a modest share of workers receives early and more intensive employment services through structural adjustment programmes.


However, older workers and casual workers of all ages are both more likely to be laid-off and struggle most to find a new job. A significant minority also loses in terms of job quality, having to switch from permanent to casual jobs, and one out of three earns less.


To help vulnerable workers find good jobs quickly, the OECD recommends that Australia:


  • Move away from the current sectoral approach to special assistance programmes in case of mass layoffs towards an approach covering all sectors of the economy, with the intensity of intervention varying according to the workers’ needs.


  • Introduce pilot schemes in a few areas to test the delivery by jobactive providers of intensive employment services adapted to the needs of laid-off workers.


  • Expand the training component in programmes for laid-off workers and make use of skills assessment and individual training counselling to target training more effectively.


  • Strengthen employers’ responsibilities for workers they are laying off by instituting a longer notice period in case of mass layoff and ensuring that notification to Centrelink is enforced so that authorities can respond more quickly.


  • Consider introducing a mechanism to publicly support firms putting workers on short hours, for example through publicly-funded training places or temporary subsidies in order to prevent excessive dismissals during cyclical downturns.


For further information, journalists should contact Ann Vourc’h, OECD economist and author of the report: (tel. + 33 1 45 24 17 27, [email protected]), or Mark Keese, head of the OECD’s Employment Policy Division (tel. +33 1 45 24 87 94, [email protected]).


For a copy of the report, please contact OECD’s Media Division ([email protected]; tel. +33 1 45 24 97 00).


Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.


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