Perceptions and expectations for learning and development for older workers within Queensland local government councils : a case study

Kelly, Kathy A. (2012) Perceptions and expectations for learning and development for older workers within Queensland local government councils : a case study. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Current literature warns organisations about a global ageing phenomenon. Workplace ageing is causing a diminishing work pool which has consequences for a sustainable workforce in the future. This phenomenon continues to impact on local government councils in Australia. Australia has one of the world’s most rapidly ageing populations, and there is evidence that Australian local government councils are already resulting in an unsustainable workforce. Consequently, this research program investigated the role of older workers in the Queensland local government workplace in enabling them to extend their working lives towards transitional employment and a sustainable workforce in the future. Transitional Employment is intended as a strategy for enabling individuals to have greater control over their employment options and their employability during the period leading to their final exit from the workforce. There was no evidence of corporate support for older workers in Queensland local government councils other than tokenistic government campaigns encouraging organisations to "better value their older workers". (Queensland Government, 2007d, p.6). TE is investigated as a possible intervention for older workers in the future.

The international and national literature review reflected a range of matters impacting on current older workers in the workforce and barriers preventing them from accessing services towards extending their employment beyond the traditional retirement age (60 years) as defined by the Australian Government; an age when individuals can access their superannuation. Learning and development services were identified as one of those barriers.

There was little evidence of investment in or consistent approaches to supporting older workers by organisations. Learning and development services appeared at best to be ad hoc, reactive to corporate productivity and outputs with little recognition of the ageing phenomenon (OECD, 2006, p.23) and looming skills and labour shortages (ALGA, 2006, p.

19). Themes from the literature review led to the establishment of three key research questions: 1. What are the current local government workforce issues impacting on skills and labour retention? 2. What are perceptions about the current workplace environment? And, 3. What are the expectations about learning and development towards extending employability of older workers within the local government sector? The research questions were explored by utilising three qualitative empirical studies, using some numerical data for reporting and comparative analysis. Empirical Study One investigated common themes for accessing transitional employment and comprised two phases. A literature review and Study One data analysis enabled the construction of an initial Transitional Employment Model which includes most frequent themes. Empirical Study Two comprised focus groups to further consider those themes. This led to identification of issues impacting the most on access to learning and development by older workers and towards a revised TEM.

Findings presented majority support for transitional employment as a strategy for supporting older workers to work beyond their traditional retirement age. Those findings are presented as significant issues impacting on access to transitional employment within the final 3-dimensionsal TEM. The model is intended as a guide for responding to an ageing workforce by local government councils in the future. This study argued for increased and improved corporate support, particularly for learning and development services for older workers. Such support will enable older workers to maintain their employability and extend their working lives; a sustainable workforce in the future.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

236 since deposited on 26 Jun 2013
76 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 60958
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Pillay, Hitendra & Patton, Wendy
Keywords: adult learning, age management, ageism, human capital, interventions, learning and development, lifelong learning, local government councils, older workers in the workplace, return on investment, strategic management, successful ageing, transitional employment, intergenerational working, workforce culture, workplace learning and development
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 26 Jun 2013 06:43
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:42

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page