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Managing older workers during a period of tight labour supply



This article reports on a recent survey of employer attitudes and policies towards older workers in Australia at a time of sustained economic growth and ongoing concerns about labour shortages. Findings from a survey of 590 employers with more than 50 employees in the State of Queensland point to an unusually strong orientation towards the recruitment of older workers among respondents, although the retraining of older workers is not prioritised by the majority. The issue of workforce ageing is viewed as being of medium-term importance by the majority of respondents, although for a substantial number the issue is of immediate concern. Both sector and organisation size are predictive of the application of a broad range of policies targeting older workers, with public-sector and larger organisations more likely to be active. Concerns about workforce ageing and labour supply are predictive of employer behaviours regarding older workers, suggesting that sustained policy making may be emerging in response to population ageing over and above more immediate concerns about labour shortages and that this broad thrust of organisational policy making may be immune to the point in the economic cycle. This study found no evidence that the flexible firm will not countenance an ageing workforce.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Philip Taylor, Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor and President, Monash University, Gippsland Campus, Northways Road, Churchill, Victoria, 3842, Australia. E-mail:


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Managing older workers during a period of tight labour supply



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