Institute for the Study of Social Change research fellow Lisa Denny will chair a forum on The Future of Work.

Census analysis highlights Tasmania’s workforce challenges

Men are ‘disappearing’ from the workforce, and fewer Tasmanians are employed in or seeking full-time jobs, the Institute for the Study of Social Change has found.

In the first of a new series of Institute Insight reports focusing on social and economic change, the institute’s research fellow, demographer Lisa Denny has analysed data from the 2016 Census.

Key findings from the Institute Insight include:

  • The Tasmanian workforce is ageing at a faster pace than population growth
  • There has been a marked shift away from full-time employment to part-time work.
  • There were 936 fewer Tasmanians in full-time employment and 14,221 more Tasmanians in part-time work in 2016 than in 2006
  • Younger Tasmanians are experiencing delayed and protracted entry into the workforce
  • Older Tasmanians are prolonging their working lives
  • Men are ‘disappearing’ from the workforce; fewer men were participating in the labour force for all age groups (except those older than 55) in 2016 than in 2006.
Institute for the Study of Social Change research fellow Lisa Denny will chair a forum on The Future of Work.

Institute for the Study of Social Change research fellow Lisa Denny

Ms Denny said the aim of the Institute Insights series was to provide policymakers and the wider community with a greater understanding of changes to Tasmania’s work environment.

“The Institute Insight series will go beyond the headline statistics of unemployment figures and participation rates so that we as a state can better understand and respond to the changing nature of work,” Ms Denny said.

“Global economic, social and demographic change during the 21st Century is impacting on the way people engage with work. Tasmania is not isolated from these developments, yet the state’s experience is vastly different to that at a national level.”

Ms Denny said a considerable proportion of working-age Tasmanians are not participating in the workforce: “Without proactive policy intervention to respond to both the ageing workforce and the restructuring of the economic base, Tasmanians – and future generations – are at risk of disengaging further from the labour force.”

“Policy intervention needs to consider education and training for work, transferable skill development, participation strategies by age, sex and stage in the life course. Policy must focus on job creation, not just economic growth,” she said.

While the Tasmanian population grew 7 per cent to 509,961 between 2006 and 2016, the proportion of Tasmanians of traditional working age – 15 to 64 years – decreased by 6.0 per cent. Over the same period the proportion of the workforce aged 45 and over grew by 12.9 per cent.

“Since 2006, the labour force participation rate for those aged 55 and older increased considerably, indicating either successful policy intervention to attract and retain older people in the workforce, increased confidence in the labour market, or necessity,” Ms Denny said.

“Over the same period, the labour force participation rate declined for the two youngest age groups. This is likely to be attributable to longer engagement in schooling and further education before entering the workforce.”

For men of all ages, except those over 55, participation in the labour force is lower in 2016 than in 2006. “For women, engagement in the labour market has improved since 2006, suggesting both successful policy intervention to increase participation of women and a shift away from traditional cultural norms of breadwinner and caregiver roles in the family,” Ms Denny said.

She said the changing gender mix is also in part due to economic restructuring and subsequent sectoral shifts, which will be the focus of the next Institute Insight report.

View the full Institute Insight.

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