Search Swinburne Research Bank
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/91949
- A precarious future: migrants and structural change
- Bertone, Santina
- As the winds of change sweep across Australian workplaces, all groups---to a greater or lesser extent---are being affected. Men, women, white and blue collar workers, migrants and Australian-born workers, part-time and full-time---all are witnessing major changes in their workplaces, and many are feeling the effects directly in their work roles, employment conditions and job security. The causes of these changes are many, but essentially they result from a combination of global economic forces and the pursuit of neo-classical economic policies locally. These have translated in practice into many jargon terms and so-called reform processes which are now familiar to us, such as: competition policy, deregulation, privatisation, tariff cuts, downsizing, corporate restructuring, contracting out and industrial relations reform, and, at the workplace level, such management innovations as delayering, devolution of responsibility, team work, multiskilling, total quality management and so on. I paint this picture because all these changes are an important piece of the contextual framework in which to consider the likely scenario for Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) workers in the new millennium. The major role played by unemployment and underemployment in the national economy is another vital piece of the picture, and likely to be so until well after 2000. I would like to be positive about the likely scenario for NESB migrant workers, and for some, this will in fact be the case. As with the other major groups in the labour market I mentioned earlier, there will be winners and losers and it is impossible to generalise about all individuals in the NESB category. Just as women are a highly differentiated group, depending on their age, marital status, number of dependents, occupation, employment status, ethnicity, residential location and, of course, personality, so are NESB migrants. However, there is enough current research into the general situation and characteristics of NESB migrants in the labour market to make some broad statements which would hold true for a great many members of this category. This research suggests a mixed picture, both positive and negative, with some migrant workers benefiting from the changes but others facing major disadvantages, including marginalisation in the workplace or exclusion from the labour market itself through long term unemployment. Given the continued primacy of work in the lives of many Australians, the import of such research has particular implications for the future of multiculturalism in Australia.
- Publication type
- Book chapter
- The future of Australian multiculturalism: reflections on the twentieth anniversary of Jean Martin's 'The migrant presence' / Ghassan Hage and Rowanne Couch (eds.), pp. 73-87
- Publication year
- Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Sydney
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © The University of Sydney, 1999.
- Peer reviewed