Newstart or an old starter?
October 1, 2016
A MATE of mine who rightly describes himself as a grumpy old man told me a great grumpy old man joke the other day. It involved a man in his late 50s, recently retrenched, who had typed up a CV for the first time in decades and was being interviewed by a 20-something HR woman at a job placement firm about his qualities as an employee.
“Do you think that you have any weaknesses?” she asked, routinely.
“Probably honesty,” he said.
“I don’t think honesty is a weakness,” she said.
“I don’t give a f–k what you think,” he replied.
Many a true word is said in jest. I like this joke because it goes to the heart of the perception that older workers — or in this bloke’s case, non-workers — are irascible and stuck in their ways. Also, older workers are seen as providing limited return on investment, to use that cliched management term.
Why bother hiring a crotchety know-it-all who might give you a decade of productivity, when you could stump for a bright young thing to shape in your image, and hopefully hold on to for years?
Our economy is at a crossroads, shifting from its reliance on manu-facturing and mining to the new service and data-driven industries.
There has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian, our Prime Minister says.
For many people, most of them men aged in their 50s and early 60s, there has never been a more unnerving time to be an Australian — because so many people being squeezed out of jobs are older men.
‘So much of the discussion around unemployment has focused on the young.’
Men who, if sacked, will never work again. The figures are borne out by the depressing statistic that anyone who is retrenched over the age of 55 will spend at least twice as long on the dole as a person under that age. And a 2014 study by the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre revealed that 96 per cent of people aged 55 to 59 who were retrenched wound up retiring, even though many were desperate to work again.
So much of the discussion around unemployment has focused on the young. There have been calls to raise the Newstart allowance from $264 a week to $317, a $53-a-week increase that would cost the Budget $7.7 billion.
It’s been pushed by the Australian Council of Social Service and the Australian Industry Group fearing the current rate is so low that people cannot present themselves properly or travel to look for jobs. I have no way of knowing whether the public agrees with the ACOSS and AIG position. My hunch is that many would be suspicious of the proposed rise, fearing that young people who could be rightly described as bludgers would treat it as their personal payday.
The public view would be different, however, if you asked people to compare the indolent 20-somethings who had never looked for work in his life, and the middle-aged man who had done nothing but work, and who found out last Monday his company was shifting operations to Beijing or Bangalore.
The Federal Government’s logic in denying calls for a Newstart increase is that it risks turning the welfare safety net into a hammock. I agree with that view for younger workers with no dependants, and no interest in working. I am not sure if it is fair for older people who have mortgages, debts, children — and a burning desire to work again.
The Federal Government’s logic in denying calls for a Newstart increase is that it risks turning the welfare safety net into a hammock.
I am not suggesting that every unemployed young person doesn’t want to work. There are some suburbs in Australia where the old blue-collar jobs have gone forever.
But there are plenty of younger people who would not work in an iron lung. Surely the best way to get them off their behinds is with less carrot, and more stick.
One of the more illuminating moments of my journalistic career came about 10 years ago when I was asked to go from editing newspapers to running a news website. You could not have found a team more adept to the digital age, be it writing HTML code, or generating new audiences via social media channels.
Their only weakness, as purported journalists, was that many of them didn’t know what The Dismissal was, how Harold Holt disappeared, or who the hell Harold Holt even was. We had replaced people who were walking encyclopedias with the Wikipedia generation. As a community, we do that every time we sort through the CVs on the basis of age, not to forget perceived grumpiness.
Source: Sun Herald
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