Federal Budget 2018: Skills boost to keep older people working

Workers and job seekers aged over 45 will be eligible for training programs to ensure they have the skills necessary to stay in the labour market for as long as they want instead of winding up on the unemployment scrapheap.

As part of the government’s baby boomers package, it will allocate $189.7 million over five years to assist mature-age workers adapt to the changing needs of the economy.

The bulk of the funding, $136.4 million over four years beginning in financial year 2019, will be available as targeted training for registered jobseekers to develop digital skills, enhance their employability and to identify job opportunities in local labour markets.

A Skills and Training Incentive, costing $19.3 million over three years, will provide as much as $2000 for workers aged 45 – 70 at risk of being made redundant through technological or economic change to undertake reskilling or upskilling. The worker or employer will have to match the funding.

A separate $15.2 million program – the Job Change Initiative – will be set up to outline career options for mature-age workers who are considering early retirement or facing redundancy.

The government will expand its Entrepreneurship Facilitators program, which promotes self-employment, to 20 additional locations at a cost of $17.7 million.

Recruiting and retraining

Incentives to hire a worker aged over 50 will be increased modestly by $1.1 million to provide additional wage subsidies for employers worth up to $10,000.

As part of the effort to keep Australians employed longer, workers will be able to undertake an online skills checkpoint when aged between 45 and 65 to provide advice to building their careers or transitioning to new industries.

As well as looking at workers’ employment history and qualifications, the checkpoint will look at their involvement in the community, such as volunteering, to see whether those skills would translate to a new career path.

By targeting workers aged in their late 40s, the hope is they will receive assistance to prolong their careers before running the risk of retrenchment, seniors advocates argue.

The government has flagged a need to drive cultural change and stop discrimination against older workers, promising to develop strategies in conjunction with business and seniors lobby groups.

“The government understands the importance of working with employers to ensure they understand the benefits of recruiting and retaining mature age people,” Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash said.

“We also need to support Australians most affected by our transitioning economy by providing opportunities for them to acquire the skills that will equip them for future opportunities and jobs.”

Source: www.afr.com.au

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