Labour History

The Passing of Youth: How Removal of Traditional Youth Recruitment Policies Contributed to the Ageing of Public Service Workforces

Labour History (2011), 101, (1), 177–193.

Abstract

All OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) workforces are ageing, and the impending swag of retirements puts pressure on labour markets. I argue that demographic explanations of workforce ageing ignore the historical context in the public sector environment. This research explores the factors underpinning ageing public workforces, through a study of the Queensland public service. It finds that ageing public workforces are not a new or recent phenomenon, but occurred whenever there was a change in the traditional youth recruitment policies. These youth recruitment policies were temporarily relaxed during world wars and permanently removed in the 1970s. On each occasion, this led to an ageing of the public service workforce. Public service personnel agencies failed to predict this trend in the 1940s or the 1970s. This understanding of the relationship between recruitment policies and ageing public workforces should be factored into any attempts to address the age of public workforces.

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Endnotes

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Author details

Colley, Linda