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How much does the quality of transition assistance affect post-retrenchment incomes?

Sally Weller and Lionel Pengilley


It is widely acknowledged that interventions to manage the repercussions of major plant closures make a difference to the post-retrenchment employment trajectories of retrenched workers. However, wide variation in outcomes depending on the time and place of plant closure make it difficult to draw conclusions about the relative importance of different causal factors. It is especially difficult to specify how much difference in outcomes can be attributed to the quality of interventions in labour markets and local economies. This paper reports an analysis of individual-level data from the ABS Blade Database to identify the labour market trajectories of automotive workers in the years 2010-2020. The strength of the analysis is its capture of all former automotive workers, regardless of their involvement in assistance programs, and the capacity to compare the outcomes of those who left the industry before the mass closures to those who left during the closure crisis. Preliminary results suggest that highly skilled workers and those retrenched from (Geelong) Ford have significantly better outcomes. We attribute this to the quality of interventions in Geelong, and to the overall growth of the Geelong economy. This work has been conducted as a part of the ARC Troubled Regions project.