Structural adjustment programs

In 2016–17, in response to job shedding in the automotive, manufacturing and energy industries, the Department provided structural adjustment programs designed to help retrenched workers find new employment as quickly as possible. It managed seven structural adjustment programs—covering the automotive industry, Arrium, Alinta, BlueScope Steel, Caterpillar, Queensland Nickel and Hazelwood. The programs are delivered as part of jobactive and offer retrenched workers tailored assistance and access to intensive employment services.

Regional employment facilitators

Employment facilitators provide a local point of contact and, in collaboration with jobactive providers, work directly with retrenched workers to connect them with training, job opportunities and other support. There are currently seven facilitators—in Gippsland, Geelong, north Queensland, north-west Tasmania, Adelaide, Port Augusta – Whyalla, and the Illawarra.

Jobs fairs

During the reporting year, the Department held a number of jobs fairs to assist retrenched workers and job seekers more generally. The aim of the fairs is to promote employment opportunities and services to local communities. Jobs Fairs provide job seekers with an opportunity to talk face-to-face with exhibitors to learn about real employment opportunities, with a number of available jobs offered during the day. Exhibitors at the fairs included small and large employers, industry associations, government agencies, employment providers, and apprenticeships advisers. The jobs fairs also provide information sessions on the labour market and tips for writing a résumé. Over 6,200 job seekers attended three jobs fairs in 2016–17, with 2,456 jobs available for job seekers to apply for. Over 3,600 applications and résumés were received at the Jobs Fairs for these positions.

Additional assistance for workers retrenched from the automotive manufacturing industry

The National Automotive Governance Committee

Representatives of the Department chair and participate in the National Automotive Governance Committee, which was established in 2014 and consists of representatives of the Australian Government, the governments of South Australia and Victoria, GM Holden and Toyota Australia. The committee meets quarterly to support implementation of the redeployment strategy, which aims to give workers the information, skills and support they need to successfully transition to new jobs by the end of 2017 when automotive manufacturing operations will have ceased.

Jobs fairs in Geelong and Broadmeadows

In July 2016, the Department held a jobs fair to assist workers retrenched from the Ford Motor Company’s plant in Geelong, Victoria. More than 862 local job seekers attended the fair and about 600 jobs were on offer on the day. Employers received over 480 résumés and applications and 99 job interviews were organised. Forty-eight exhibitors were present.

In August 2016, the Department held a jobs fair designed to assist retrenched workers from the Ford Motor Company’s plant in Broadmeadows, Victoria. More than 4,000 local job seekers, including about 500 Ford workers, attended the fair, and about 1,056 jobs were on offer on the day. Employers received over 2,191 résumés and applications and 255 job interviews were organised. Fifty-six exhibitors were present.

Additional jobs fairs are planned for Geelong, Melbourne and Adelaide to support retrenched automotive workers.

Labour market information sessions

The Department held 17 labour market information sessions for workers affected by the closure of the automotive manufacturing industry in Victoria and South Australia. These sessions provided tailored information about the local labour market and growth industries in the region. A large number of the sessions are conducted on site at the employees’ workplace with approximately 1,240 workers attending from automotive and supply chain companies.

Assistance for workers retrenched from the Hazelwood power station and mine

In November 2016, the Department implemented the Hazelwood structural adjustment program to assist workers from the Hazelwood power station and mine (including eligible contractors and supply chain businesses) and their partners. As a part of the program, the Department appointed an employment facilitator in Victoria’s Gippsland region. The facilitator led the organisation of onsite worker transition centres, where local jobactive providers attended to ensure workers were able to register for assistance promptly.

Gippsland jobs fair

In March 2017, the Department held a jobs fair in Morwell primarily to assist retrenched workers from the Hazelwood power station and mine. More than 1,350 members of the community attended the fair and about 800 jobs were on offer on the day. Employees received over 988 résumés and applications and 40 job interviews were offered to job seekers. Fifty-six exhibitors were present.

The labour force participation rate and employment-to-population ratio for people aged 15 to 64 years

The labour force participation rate is the proportion of the workforce-age population (15 to 64 year-olds) that is employed or actively looking for work. It is a good indicator of the total supply of labour, although it does not include those who are marginally attached to the labour force (people who want to be working but are not actively looking for work), such as discouraged job seekers.

The employment-to-population ratio is the proportion of the workforce-age population that is employed. This ratio is influenced by both labour demand and labour supply factors. It is also a good summary indicator for measuring Australia’s labour market performance relative to other countries, particularly those in the OECD.

Over the year to June 2017, Australia’s trend employment-to-population ratio for workforce-age people increased by 0.4 percentage point to 72.8 per cent. The trend workforce-age labour force participation rate also increased by 0.4 percentage point over the same period to 77.3 per cent. 

Figure 8. Labour force participation rate and employment-to-population ratio, people aged 15 to 64 years, trend data, February 1978 to June 2017
Figure 8. Labour force participation rate and employment-to-population ratio, people aged 15 to 64 years, trend data, February 1978 to June 2017
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour force, Australia, June 2017, Cat.no. 6202.0, Table 18

Figure 8. description

Labour force participation showing an upward trend, starting at 68.8 per cent in February 1978 and data ending at 77.3 per cent in June 2017.

Employment-to-population ratio showing an upward trend, starting at 64.3 per cent in February 1978 and data showing rates of 72.8 per cent in June 2016. Major dips in the graph appear in 1983 (dropping to 61.6 per cent) and then in 1993—dropping from a high of 68.7 per cent in 1990 to a low of 64.4 per cent in 1993, before again sharply rising.

Labour force participation rates for males and females aged 15 to 64 years

The gap between male and female labour force participation rates narrowed slightly over the year to June 2017. This will help Australia achieve the G20 goal of reducing the gap in participation rates between men and women of workforce age by 25 per cent by 2025.

The workforce-age male labour force participation rate increased by 0.3 percentage point to 82.5 per cent over the year to June 2017; the female labour force participation rate increased 0.5 percentage point to 72.1 per cent over the same period. The notable increase in female labour force participation could be due to the growth of industries that employ a higher proportion of women during Australia’s transition from resource-intensive to more broad-based economic growth, although it is not entirely clear at this stage.

Figure 9. Labour force participation rate of males and females ages 15 to 64 years, trend data, February 1978 to June 2017
Figure 9. Labour force participation rate of males and females ages 15 to 64 years,trend data, February 1978 to June 2017
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour force, Australia, June 2017, Cat.no. 6202.0, Table 18

Figure 9. description

The gap between male and female labour force participation narrowed slightly over the year to June 2017.

Male participation showing a slight downward trend, starting at 87.1 per cent in February 1978 and data ending at 82.5 per cent in June 2017.

Female participation showing an upward trend, starting at 50.2 per cent in February 1978 and data showing rates of 72.1 per cent in June 2017.