UOW experts available for comment this week (30 August - 2 September)

UOW experts available for comment this week (30 August - 2 September)

UOW academics provide expert commentary, opinion and analysis on a range of ongoing and breaking news stories

Jobs and skills summit

Associate Professor Martin O’Brien is available for interview about the Jobs and Skills Summit (1-2 September) and can discuss labour and skills shortages in Australia. Associate Professor O’Brien is an economist and the Director of the Centre for Human and Social Capital Research. His research interests include segmented labour market theory, econometrics, older worker employment issues and hidden unemployment. 

Free university degrees for nursing students

Associate Professor Caleb Ferguson says NSW should follow Victoria’s lead after the state announced plans to pay for the university degrees of more than 10,000 nursing and midwifery students. Associate Professor Ferguson says the global nursing shortage needs to be urgently addressed and says part of the solution should also involve recruiting and retaining more men in nursing. Associate Professor Ferguson is a Principal Research Fellow in the School of Nursing.

Disability support pensioners and homelessness

Social welfare expert Dr Mona Nikidehaghani can provide commentary on the Disability Royal Commission which will this week hear evidence from people with disability who have experienced homelessness or live in insecure or inadequate housing in New South Wales and Victoria. Dr Nikidehaghani is an expert in the relationship between accounting and public policies, with a focus on people with disabilities. She is a Lecturer in the School of Business.

Skills shortages and climate change

Dr Chantel Carr can talk about skills shortages and the need to build the capacity of workforces who are on the frontline of climate change. In a new article for The Conversation Dr Carr writes about her research into the air-conditioning and refrigeration sector:

Upgrading air-conditioning and refrigeration systems is a significant economic and environmental opportunity. But this requires workers, and the sector has struggled to recruit.

Industry figures suggest about 1,600 people each year start an apprenticeship or traineeship in the refrigeration and air-conditioning trade across Australia. But fewer than half complete the training, pointing to attrition problems.

The industry needs a strong pipeline of skilled workers. Any workforce shortages could seriously inhibit Australia’s capacity to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Dr Carr is a social scientist from the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities.

Shark nets

Associate Professor Leah Gibbs can discuss renewed calls for the removal of shark nets, after a 10th whale was caught in nets off Queensland’s coast this year. Associate Professor Gibbs is an expert in shark hazard management, her research examines the cultures and politics of human-shark encounter. She is from the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities.

How safe is your money in the bank?

Dr Paul Mazzola can talk about what would happen to your savings if your bank closed. Dr Mazzola spoke to Money Magazine about the recent closures of digital banks Volt, in June 2022, and Xinja in 2020, and says its important Australians do their due diligence when choosing a financial institution. Dr Mazzola is a Lecturer in banking and finance in the School of Business. He has more than 25 years’ banking and finance experience in the Australian, European and Asian Pacific markets. 

Role of supermarket and hotel quarantine workers during lockdowns

Dr Jane Williams and Associate Professor Chris Degeling are available to interview about new research they are doing into the pandemic experience of essential workers outside of healthcare. While there has been significant focus on the experience of doctors, nurses and hospital staff during the pandemic, less attention has been given to essential roles in non-health care jobs.

Chief Investigator Dr Williams said that the project aims understand how the workers have experienced and adapted to the risks of the current pandemic, and how they think Australia should manage the threat of pandemics in the future.

“For the last few years people who work in supermarkets and hotels have faced a dilemma – go to work and risk catching COVID or stay home and not get paid – an impossible choice for many families.

“The more these essential workers stayed home, the greater the disruption to the supply of essential goods and services to communities. But the more they go to work the greater the personal risk of being infected unintentionally passing on the disease to family members.”

Dr Williams is a Research Fellow in the Australian Centre for Health Engagement, Evidence and Values (ACHEEV).

UOW academics exercise academic freedom by providing expert commentary, opinion and analysis on a range of ongoing social issues and current affairs. This expert commentary reflects the views of those individual academics and does not necessarily reflect the views or policy positions of the University of Wollongong.