A collaborative approach to fighting employment instability for disadvantaged groups

Research news

07 September 2022

Despite Australia’s low unemployment rate, too many Australians are locked out of secure, quality work. A new project from Deakin University will help solve this problem by improving engagement between employers and employment services.

Led by Associate Professor Jo Ingold at Deakin Business School and Associate Professor Angie Knox from University of Sydney Business School, the project will help employers attract and retain disadvantaged workers into better quality jobs.

‘This is a time of crisis for the labour market. There are severe labour and skills shortages across Australia and historical issues with poor quality jobs, leading to recruitment and retention issues for businesses and negative impacts on individuals and society.

‘This work will investigate simple but effective changes that service providers can implement with employers to help them attract and retain employees who face extra barriers to work, such as older people, young people, people with disabilities, sole parents, or Indigenous Australians,’ Assoc. Prof. Ingold says.

The team also aims to reduce cycling between work and welfare. They want to assist more disadvantaged Australians enter sustainable, good-quality jobs. Ultimately, creating better policies to find sustainable employment for disadvantaged Australians will improve Australians’ economic and social well-being.

The project has recently received funding through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Project Scheme. The research team will be working alongside four industry partners – Jobs Victoria, Jobsbank, Asuria Assured People Services and Social Ventures Australia – to build better jobs and improve the capacity of employment services providers to work with employers.

‘We need to move away from transactional engagement, where a job seeker is simply matched with an employer, to a more relational engagement, where employment services are engaging with employers to better understand what their needs are and how simple workplace adjustments might help them access this untapped workforce,’ Assoc. Prof. Ingold says.

‘Now is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change employment for the better.’

Before joining Deakin in 2020, Assoc. Prof. Ingold previously held roles in the non-profit sector, in policy, research and people development with the UK central government, and at Leeds University Business School.

Her research, teaching and external engagement activities fuse human resource management and public policy. She is recognised for her expertise on improving employer engagement in employability and skills programmes.

Assoc. Prof. Ingold said she has always been interested in how people get jobs.

‘My dad was a joiner and was in and out of insecure jobs throughout his life,’ she says.

‘My mum was a cleaner, retail assistant and a waitress and always worked at least two jobs to make ends meet. They didn’t enjoy their work and my dad experienced brief periods of unemployment throughout his life. They both had a strong work ethic and I think all of this helped drive my interest in researching in this area.’‘My placements at a youth training provider during my research for my Bachelor’s degree and with Jobcentre Plus when I worked in the UK’s central government were really insightful in showing me what a difference employment services can make in people’s lives.’

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Evidence shows only a tiny fraction of employers are utilising Federally-managed employment services. Just 4 per cent of Australian employers were using the jobs services system in 2018, down from 18 per cent in 2007.

Key Fact

Evidence shows only a tiny fraction of employers are utilising Federally-managed employment services. Just 4 per cent of Australian employers were using the jobs services system in 2018, down from 18 per cent in 2007.

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