Grey army marches back to work

Older Worker

Joyleen Thomas, 73, works full-time in the aged care sector as an administrator, the oldest worker in the 2000-employee ACH Group. Picture: Kelly BarnesSource: News Corp Australia

JOYLEEN Thomas’s career began at 42, after she spent two decades out of the paid workforce to raise her family.

Now approaching 74, Mrs Thomas has worked from the “bottom of the rung” to become the oldest full-time worker of 2000 employees at aged care provider ACH Group and has no plans to retire.

Part of her job at ACH’s Adelaide headquarters is to evaluate programs to improve the quality of life of aged care residents.

“I have no idea when I will give up work … quite a lot of people I know have left and then come back into the workforce. My ­husband is an accountant; he works two days a week and he’s older than me,’’ she said.

INTERACTIVE: The InterGenerational Report

“It’s my choice. My husband says that I’m healthier and more vibrant than when I was home with my children. What we know today is that people like me may live to 100 — we don’t want to just exist for those years.”

Mrs Thomas said although her husband had experienced ageism when seeking work after an initial retirement at 67, she had felt no pressure to retire from her role.

Although the Intergenerational Report projects Australians over 65 will increase workforce participation this year, reaching 17.3 per cent in 2054-55, finding a job at an advanced age was proving difficult, said Mark Henley, advocacy manager for ­financial counselling and community support service Uniting Communities.

He said financial pressures were forcing more older people back to work beyond retirement.

“We see more older people wanting and needing work ­because they can’t afford to retire. Jobs for older people is more the issue we see,’’ he said.

Council on the Ageing South Australian chief executive Jane Mussared said the report’s aim to increase Australians’ longevity and health should be celebrated.

“But we also need to increase the opportunities for older people to stay in and, in many cases, get back into, the workforce,’’ she said.

Although work participation rates are expected to fall by 2.2 per cent to 62.4 per cent by 2055, Ms Mussared said the participation rate of people aged over 55 was climbing slowly climbing.

Source The Australian

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