Marginal, Liminal and Traditional Employment: A Longitudinal Analysis of How Young Australians Fare in a Precarious Labour Market.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:40
Oral Presentation
Hernan CUERVO, Youth Research Centre, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Jennifer CHESTERS, University of Melbourne, Australia
Johanna WYN, Youth Research Centre, Australia
Recent debates surrounding the concepts of precarious work, the gig economy and the rise of the precariat as a distinct social class bring into focus the effects that contemporary changes in the labour market are having on young people’s lives. It has been established, for example, that the transition from education to employment can no longer be regarded as linear and that young people struggle to gain a permanent job after completing their education, whether that be at the secondary school level or at the higher education level. In this paper, we examine the relevance of Andy Furlong and colleagues’ three zones of employment: traditional, liminal and marginal in the Australian context. We draw on a mixed-methods longitudinal panel study, the Life Patterns project, which follows a cohort of young Australians who left secondary school in 2006. These young people experienced pressure to gain tertiary education qualifications to equip them for an increasingly precarious labour market. Following Furlong and colleagues’ analysis, we examine three important aspects of this cohort’s post-secondary school trajectories. Firstly, we examine whether their high level of investment in tertiary education has been rewarded in the labour market. Secondly, we analyse their struggle to secure traditional, full-time permanent, employment. Finally, we illustrate the impact that falling into the liminal zone of employment can have on other spheres of their lives.