Over the last quarter century, the way we work has been transformed in radical ways. Part-time, contract, labour hire, shift and casual work have become much more common—indeed the norm in some parts of the economy. There is growing concern about the impact of these flexible types of employment on the quality of working life.

At the same time, the nature of the workforce has changed. Many more workers are also fulltime students, mothers of young children, approaching retirement, living in multiple earner households and have higher standards of living than was the case a generation ago.

In this lecture, labour economics academic Sue Richardson takes a “life-cycle” approach to analysing how these major changes in employment arrangements have accommodated and precipitated new patterns of work. Sue examines, in light of evolving worker preferences and employer needs, how successfully the labour market is matching the preferences and capacities of the labour force to the requirements of employers.

Sue Richardson is Principal Research Fellow at the National Institute of Labour Studies (NILS), Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor and a member of the National Sustainability Council. She was a member of the Minimum Wage Panel of Fair Work Australia during its 4 year life.

Sue has previously held positions as Director of NILS, President of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and as a Commissioner of the Essential Services Commission, SA. Through her extensive experience on policy advisory boards and in her role as President of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Sue has shown an unusual capacity to link high quality scholarship to important policy ideas. In 2011, Sue was made a Member of the Order of Australia for ‘her contribution to socially inclusive public policy’.

Sue’s research interests are in labour economics, with a recent focus on the ageing workforce, skill shortages, the links between work and health, immigration, and social inclusion.

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