Forum proving older workers’ worth

Posted at 8:59am Monday 08 Sep, 2014 | By Merle Foster

Removing the stigma surrounding employing older people and making businesses realise the ageing population’s enormous opportunity is the aim of a city forum this month.

Tauranga’s older residents and business people are encouraged to attend the Older Workforce Forum, hosted by Age Concern Tauranga and Chamber of Commerce.

Mitre 10 MEGA Tauranga team members Noel Meredith, 70, Dave Watson, 71, and Dave Semple, 74, with general manager Wayne Mansell. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

Age Concern fundraising manager Michael Vujnovich says the forum will discuss the ‘why, how and spin-offs’ of workforce generation change.

“We’re trying to raise people’s awareness of the issue of an ageing workforce but enable them to realise there is an enormous opportunity here.

“If we continue with our old, outdated model of what it means to be getting old we’ll continue to fail to address the issues that confront older people and fail to address opportunities they present to employers and society as a whole.”

Guest speakerElders Forum chair Max Lewis says “65 is the new 45”. He believes older workers have as many benefits as others, just different.

“We need to lift the perception of age as being a positive. We’ve got to stop this perceived bias. We have so many talented people, and they want to be working.”

“If you can get them working where their strengths are, they can be offering advice and knowledge to younger staff, you’re getting 30 years of knowledge and experience.”

Max also sees Tauranga as the pace-setter for the whole country.

Mega Mitre 10 Tauranga general manager Wayne Mansell knows the benefits of older workers and will talk about his company’s diversity-friendly policies in action.

“The reason we look at employing people a bit older is simply experience – they have the knowledge and they also have the integrity of the work ethic.

“We have a number of retiree plumber and builders who’ve worked in the building game in the past and are looking to continue to stay in the workforce – and we’re happy to oblige.”

Wayne says older staff are also more flexible.

“They’re willing part-time or full-time hours, extra days don’t have issues around working weekends.”

An open floor discussion with the speaker panel will finish the forum on Thursday, September 18 from 8.30am-2.30pm at Mt Club, Totara St, Mount Maunganui.

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