Posts Tagged “employ older workers”
Skills Checkpoint program can help you to access up to $2,200 to fund suitable education and training options. If you are looking for support and guidance on transitioning into a new role or new career, Skills Checkpoint program can help!
The program is individually tailored to your needs through our free initial career planning session. If you are eligible, you can access up to $2,200 (GST inclusive) to fund suitable education and training options, as outlined in your career plan, to reach your employment goals.
*To participate you must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident aged 45 to 70 years old, who is either:
*employed and at risk of unemployment (e.g. those in industries undergoing structural adjustment); or
*unemployed for no more than three consecutive months and not registered for assistance through a government employment services program, (e.g. jobactive).
The Skills Checkpoint program is a joint initiative between the Department of Education and Training, and the Department of Jobs and Small Business.
Skills Checkpoint is available through VERTO in NSW, VIC and the ACT.
To find out more, register your interest today:
In the space of five years, Liz Clifford has lost her husband to cancer, her office job and now her home.
At the age of 60 she finds herself struggling to get by on Newstart unemployment benefits.
“Very disappointed with life,” she told 7.30.
“It wasn’t his fault that he got sick and died, but after losing my job I don’t have the income now to support living here — rates to pay and bills to pay.
“I don’t like to say it’s destroyed my life, but it’s certainly torn it apart.”
Ms Clifford is part of a worrying trend. The number of people aged 55-64 on Newstart has risen by more than 55,000 in less than five years.
“It’s been very difficult. It makes you feel quite worthless actually, like you’ve got no purpose in life,” she said.
“I feel a little bit insulted and I feel like I’ve been punished for being unemployed.”
She lives on about $50 a day and has been forced to sell her and her late husband’s dream home because she can no longer keep up with repayments.
‘I’ve got a lot to offer’
Newstart has not increased in real terms for more than two decades, and the Federal Government is resisting calls to lift the payment.
“Electricity’s not cheap, water rates and house rates aren’t cheap,” Ms Clifford said.
“I get my Centrelink payment every fortnight and that just goes straight onto my credit card.
“Because I’ve used the redraw facility on [the mortgage], it’s gone up but I’ve tried to be very careful with that.”
Ms Clifford currently works part-time at a Gold Coast boarding kennel but is planning a move to Ipswich to find a cheaper home and full-time office work.
“I think people probably want someone who’s 35, 40 or something like that or maybe even younger.
“I know I’ve got a lot to offer, I’ve got a lot of skills and I’ve worked for a long time and I’m quite computer literate, but I think people just think, ‘She’ll be wanting to retire in a couple of years’ time, so it’s not worth taking her on’.”
More programs needed for mature age workers
Labour market analyst Professor John Spoehr said the sharp rise in the number of over-55s on Newstart was due to a downturn in traditional industries and a crackdown on eligibility for disability support payments.
“Despite the Australian unemployment rate being relatively low, that masks some other problems in the labour market,” he told 7.30.
“In particular, the difficult circumstances that mature-age workers face, particularly because of the decline in mining and manufacturing.
“People who were skilled in those sectors had to find jobs in very, very different areas of the labour market, predominantly in the services sector where they weren’t well skilled.”
Professor Spoehr said a poor education was hurting some workers in the modern employment landscape.
“Typically, mature-age workers, baby boomers in particular, often require more support than a lot of other workers in the labour market that are struggling,” he said.
“I think there’s a need for an expansion of mature-age employment programs in Australia to support mature age workers through these difficult transitions.”
Living on $40 a day
Phillip Cacciola, 61, has a lifetime of experience on the factory floor.
“My first job [was] cabinet maker, then I got a job at Holden, biscuit factory, steel fabrication,” he told 7.30.
“Then I got a job at Copperpot pate and dip factory. I was there for 10 years.”
He is now unemployed and believes his reading and writing skills and age are stopping him from finding work.
“Everything is on the computer,” he said.
“When you put a job application in you’ve got to put it in the computer. I can’t do that. Simple as that, I just can’t do that.
“If they put me on a forklift and show me what to do I’d probably pick it up after a while. You’ve got to go through the paperwork and safety and stuff.
“I know the safety stuff but you still got to write it down, that’s my biggest problem.”
Mr Cacciola said he had personally sought out courses to improve his reading and writing skills but wanted the Government to help more in this area as well as increase the Newstart payment.
He lives on about $40 a day.
“Sometimes I get cranky when I hear things about the politicians,” he said.
“They’ve got no problems paying the electric bills, they’ve got no problems paying anything.
“If they want to buy something they can get money out of the bank and buy it. I can’t do that.”
Older adults offer leadership and experience, yet are often overlooked in the hiring process with HR instead focusing on millennials. That’s according to Ben Eatwell, CMO at Weploy.
Eatwell added that this is often out of a desire to “nurture the next generation of talent”, but also the satisfaction out of having a major impact on these younger minds.
“That’s quite a long way from retirement! We know diversity positively impacts innovation, culture and profits, but often age diversity has less focus.”
Eatwell said there are many advantages to employing older adults, particularly in positions where experience and leadership are needed. However, this doesn’t seem to be translating into more opportunities for older Australians.
“I think this has to do with trying to fit workers into traditional organisational structures – by exploring more agile, networked and outcome-oriented structures it can not only improve diversity but also productivity.”
Eatwell offers a few tips for HR professionals who want to boost the number of older Australians amongst their staff.
The starting point should always be a “thorough assessment of the recruitment process” to identify and mitigate where age discrimination could arise.
“One of the key traits we assess is learning agility – in a nutshell, the ability to pick new ideas up quickly,” he said.
“Research suggests that although you can make small improvements to your learning agility, it is more or less fixed and is not dependent on age.”
Consequently, choosing candidates based on learning agility can help add some objectivity to the hiring process.
From there it’s about developing a culture of lifelong learning. Mature employees have a huge amount of experience to share which can be “leveraged to increase overall productivity and morale”.
“Also I’ve seen reverse mentoring work very well, reducing knowledge gaps with both younger and more mature workers, as well as improving organisational culture.”
So what is lost by having nobody senior around?
“Often it’s the times of crisis when calm is needed, or when team morale is affected by a failed project, that age diverse workforces show critical value,” said Eatwell.
“We do a lot of ‘learning by doing’ and that includes what to do when things do not go according to plan.”
Eatwell added that leadership is a quality that is not tied to age, but the “reassurance of someone who has seen a crisis and worked through it to tell the tale” can be invaluable in making sure the right work gets done in these high-pressure moments.
Sometimes, the only senior person on a project is the boss, and employees are reluctant to confess an error that can lead to disaster if unaddressed, he added.
“Having a senior member of the workforce who can act as that neutral-confidant, and know what to do with the information, has considerable value.”
Employees from diverse ages have different experiences, perceptions and approaches when it comes to things like problem-solving, decision making and task handling, he said.
“They can also use various strategies – starting from the way they think, plan and execute tasks, which can influence operations in a more subtle, but still valuable way.”
People are living longer, and organizations are shifting their attitudes toward older workers as a result. Organizations that can turn advancing worker age into an asset could gain a competitive advantage.
Longer lives, older workforces
Rising life expectancies and an aging global workforce present organizations with unprecedented challenges and untapped opportunities. Companies that plan, design, and experiment with workforce strategies, workplace policies, and management approaches for longer working lives can reap a longevity dividend. Those that lag behind face potential liability concerns and skill gaps. Creating ways for people to have meaningful, productive multi-stage and multidimensional careers is a major opportunity to engage workers across generations.
One of modern science’s greatest achievements is longevity: the unprecedented length of human lives today. Average global life expectancy has rocketed from 53 years in 1960 to 72 years in 2015—and it is still climbing,1 with life expectancy projected to grow by 1.5 years per decade.2 Longevity, combined with falling birth rates, is dramatically increasing the share of older people in populations worldwide.3 Looking ahead, the number of retirees per worker globally is expected to decline from 8:1 today to 4:1 in 2050.4
These demographic facts have profound implications for individuals, organizations, and society. In this era of longevity, an individual’s career can last far longer, spanning generations of technologies and businesses. Companies can employ people into their 60s, 70s, and beyond as the pool of traditional “working-age” (20- to 54-year-old) adults shrinks. For their part, many individuals find the need—financially and/or emotionally—to stay in the workforce past “traditional” retirement age.
In our 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 29 percent of the respondents rated longevity as a very important issue, and another 40 percent rated it as important. Respondents in Japan in particular, whose population is rapidly aging, were especially concerned about the issue, with 41 percent saying that it is very important.
The looming impacts of global aging
Population aging poses a workforce dilemma for both economies and organizations. Thirteen countries are expected to have “super-aged” populations—where more than one in five people is 65 or older—by 2020, up from just three in 2014.5 These include major economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, and South Korea. China’s 65-and-older population is projected to more than triple from approximately 100 million in 2005 to over 329 million in 2050.6 In fact, analysts have estimated that 60 percent of the world’s population over 65 will live in Asia by 2030.7
Compounding the challenge, almost all developed economies now have birth rates below the replacement rate of 2.1.8 This means that companies in these countries must either attract workers from abroad or tap into the maturing workforce. For a view of the challenges ahead, one needs look no further than Japan—the world’s oldest country—where a shortage of roughly 1 million employees in 2015 and 2016 is estimated to cost nearly $90 billion.9
New research is being conducted to help organizations shape their talent and business strategies for an era of longevity. The MIT AgeLab, for example, works with businesses, government, and other stakeholders to develop solutions and policies aimed at engaging the elderly population. The AgeLab uses consumer-centered thinking to understand the challenges and opportunities of longevity in order to catalyze innovation across business markets.10
Older talent as a competitive advantage
As talent markets grow more competitive, organizations often find it valuable to keep older workers on the job rather than replace them with younger ones. Our research shows that older workers represent a largely untapped opportunity: Only 18 percent of this year’s respondents said that age is viewed as an advantage in their organization. But leading companies are beginning to focus on this talent pool as a competitive advantage.
The older labor pool represents a proven, committed, and diverse set of workers. More than 80 percent of US employers believe that workers aged 50 and more are “a valuable resource for training and mentoring,” “an important source of institutional knowledge,” and offer “more knowledge, wisdom, and life experience.”11 The UK government incentivizes employers to retain, retrain, and recruit older workers, and it is committed to policies that support lifetime learning and training and decrease loneliness and social isolation.12
Proactive organizations are tapping into the older talent pool by extending their career models, creating new development paths, and inventing roles to accommodate workers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. This year, 16 percent of the respondents we surveyed for this report say their companies are creating special roles for older workers, and 20 percent are partnering with older workers to develop new career models. Organizations could find great value in older workers’ ability to serve as mentors, coaches, or experts. Taking on these kinds of roles allows older workers to “pass the baton” to younger generations, while making room for ambitious younger workers.
Many companies are also experimenting with workplace changes to help older employees remain in the workforce. For instance, BMW increased productivity on an assembly line staffed with older workers by 7 percent in just three months through simple changes such as providing cushioned floors and adjustable work benches.13 Home Depot and other organizations are engaging older workers with flexible scheduling options and part-time positions.14 Further, as many as one-third of retirees are willing to work part-time, offering opportunities to leverage this group on a contingent or gig basis.15
Reskilling also plays a role in successful strategies to utilize older talent. One global telecommunications provider encourages senior workers to reinvent themselves and invests in programs to help them acquire new technical skills.16 Software engineers who have built careers on older technologies such as COBOL or C++ can use this experience to learn mobile computing, AI, and other technologies at a very rapid rate.
An interesting and little-known fact, moreover, is that older people are among the most entrepreneurial of workers across age groups. Between 1996 and 2014, the percentage of older workers (aged 55–64) starting new ventures increased—exceeding (by 68 percent) the rate of entrepreneurship among millennial entrepreneurs (aged 20–34), which actually decreased during the same period.17
The new challenges of an aging workforce
The transition toward older talent can present challenges. Older workers may have specialized workplace needs and can attract resentment from younger workers, and they often enjoy higher salaries because of their tenure. Organizations looking to assimilate an older worker population may face the need to design new wage policies, create more flexible rewards programs, and train young leaders to manage people across generations (including team members who may be their parents’ age).
Pensions are another area where longevity impacts organizations. The World Economic Forum estimates that a $70 trillion global retirement savings gap exists today, highlighting the sharp difference between retirement needs and actual retirement income. Moreover, this gap is projected to grow to $400 trillion by 2050.18 Helping older adults to work longer and manage their retirement savings will be a vital need for companies in order to avoid the negative productivity effects of financial stress.
Our Global Human Capital Trends research shows that many organizations are unprepared to deal with the aging of global workforces. Nearly half of the respondents we surveyed (49 percent) reported that their organizations have done nothing to help older workers find new careers as they age. Rather than seeing opportunity, 20 percent of respondents view older workers as a competitive disadvantage, and in countries such as Singapore, the Netherlands, and Russia, this percentage is far higher. In fact, 15 percent of respondents believed that older employees are “an impediment to rising talent” by getting in the way of up-and-coming younger workers.
Are older workers an advantage or a disadvantage?
Perceptions of workers over 55 years old spanned both extremes, though these perceptions varied significantly by country.
Based on these findings and our anecdotal observations, we believe there may be a significant hidden problem of age bias in the workforce today. Left unaddressed, perceptions that a company’s culture and employment practices suffer from age bias could damage its brand and social capital.
Age discrimination is already becoming a mainstream diversity issue and liability concern. More than 21,000 age discrimination complaints were filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016.19 The problem is particularly acute in Silicon Valley’s technology industry, where older software engineers are often pushed to take lower-paying jobs or look for work outside Silicon Valley because of the emphasis on the “youth culture.”20
The demographic math is undeniable: As national populations age, challenges related to engaging and managing the older workforce will intensify. Companies that ignore or resist them may not only incur reputational damage and possible liabilities, but also risk falling behind those organizations that succeed in turning longevity into a competitive advantage.
The bottom line
Staying competitive in a world of unprecedented longevity demands that organizations adopt new strategies to engage with older talent. Traditional assumptions—that learning ends in one’s 20s, career progression ends in the 40s, and work ends in the 60s—are no longer accurate or sustainable. Rethinking workforce strategies across multiple generations to account for longer lives will require open minds and fresh approaches.
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.”
Older workers must not be left behind when it comes to digital skills training, according to a survey and report from Business in the Community.
The poll of 2,000 employees, 1,000 of whom were over 50, found that older workerss are not receiving the training and skills development they need to succeed in the digital era. Only 25% of employees aged 50-59, and 22% of those aged 60-69, felt their employer encouraged them to take up learning and development opportunities. This is compared with 44% of 18-39 year-olds and 32% of 40-49 year-olds.
Older workers were also more likely to feel that their employer did not inform them about how technology and automation would impact their job compared to younger employees.
Separate research from McKinsey Global Institute has forecast that up to a third of US and German workers, and nearly half of those in Japan, may need to switch occupations by 2030 due to a sudden surge in automation. The researchers describe this as an upheaval on a par with the shift from agriculture to manufacturing.
Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Alliance Manchester Business School, told the Financial Times that that older workers, who remember a time when jobs were for life, may struggle with re-skilling.
“Thirty years ago the psychological contract was if you [work hard] for us we’ll give you career development,” he said. “Now the contract is that we expect you to be committed . . . but we cannot guarantee future employment.”
Therefore, what can businesses do to support older workers in their upskilling journey? Nupur Malik is the HR Director at Tata Consultancy Services, which helped support the Business in the Community research. She called on organisations to take action.
“We believe that training and development is an ongoing process and support all our employees to gain the skills needed to succeed at work, whatever their age,” she said. “Taking action will mean more businesses can thrive in an increasingly competitive global business environment and support employees to stay in good work for longer.”
“By supporting older workers to be ‘digital adopters’ employers can show they value experience, ambition and ensure that their businesses are prepared for future skills shortages,” added Lincoln.
by Kimberly Palmer, AARP
Keep up in the workplace by learning the facts about age discrimination.
Age discrimination is real. Two out of three workers between ages 45 and 74 say they have seen or experienced age discrimination at work, and job seekers over age 35 cite it as a top obstacle to getting hired. And if you happen to work in the high-tech or entertainment industries, your chances of experiencing age discrimination are even higher.
Age Discrimination Facts
Here are 10 important facts you should know about age discrimination:
1. Age discrimination is illegal at any stage of employment, including during hiring, promotions, raises and layoffs. The law also prohibits workplace harassment, by co-workers states have stronger protections. Also prohibited: mandatory retirement ages except for a few exemptions, such as airline pilots and public safety workers.
2. It is currently legal for employers and prospective employers to ask your age as well as your graduation date. AARP is working to strengthen protections against this line of inquiry. You can opt to remove this identifying information from your LinkedIn profile, or try to deflect the question in an interview, but there’s nothing stopping a prospective employer from asking.
3. A 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling made it harder for older workers who’ve experienced proven age discrimination to prevail in court. The court said plaintiffs must meet a higher burden of proof for age discrimination than for other types of discrimination. In other words, the Supreme Court moved the law backward and sent a message to employers that some amount of proven discrimination is legally allowed.
4. Most Americans age 50 and up — 8 in 10, according to AARP research — say they want to see Congress create stronger laws to prevent age discrimination at work.
5. Most people believe age discrimination begins when workers hit their 50s, according to AARP research of workers between the ages of 45 and 74. Still, 22 percent believe it begins even earlier, when workers hit their 30s and 40s. And 17 percent say they think it begins in one’s 60s.
6. There’s also a gender difference in the perception of age discrimination: While 72 percent of women between the ages of 45 and 74 said they think people face age discrimination at work, only 57 percent of men in the same age range said so.
7. Among older workers surveyed by AARP, not getting hired is the most common type of age discrimination they experienced, with 19 percent of respondents citing it. An additional 12 percent say they missed out on a promotion because of age, and 8 percent say they were laid off or fired.
8. You can take action. If you think you’ve been discriminated against, you can file a charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You can also work with a lawyer to file a lawsuit. Before taking either of these steps, consider going through your company’s grievance system, if it has one. Know that filing a lawsuit can be expensive and there is no guarantee of victory. To help bolster your case, be sure to keep a careful record of all of the alleged discrimination.
9. Last year, the EEOC received 20,857 charges of age discrimination. Age discrimination makes up more than 1 in 5 of the discrimination charges received by the EEOC.
10. Contrary to stereotypes, workers age 50 and up are among the most engaged members of the workforce,according to an AARP study. Sixty-five percent of employees age 55 and up are “engaged,” compared to 58 to 60 percent of younger employees. They also offer employers lower turnover rates and greater levels of experience.
Kimberly Palmer is an AARP writer for work and jobs. She is also the author of the personal finance books “Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family” and “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life.”
Half of us will live to 100 that’s why senior workers need a gap year to plan for their retirement
HALF the Aussies born today will live to be 100. So it’s time to reassess how we live healthier and work smarter.
HALF the Aussies born today will live to be 100 and it is time to introduce a senior’s gap year where older workers take a year off work to consider their next 20 years says Aged Care minister Ken Wyatt.
Describing 70 as the new 40, Mr Wyatt is warning Australians they will have to prepare for a future in which they will be healthy enough to work or volunteer well into their eighties.
“More than six million of Australians now aged between 50 and 75 are facing an extended life expectancy,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra.
Researchers at the London Business School had calculated that children born today in the US, Canada, Italy or France had a 50 per cent chance of living to at least 104, and 107 if they came from Japan.
“These projections are the real deal. Therefore, we need to seriously refocus our attention on living better,” he said.
More than six million of Australians now aged between 50 and 75 are facing an extended life expectancy.
This new age could bring us fulfilment and freedom but it has to be managed by a gradual move to part time employment, changing careers, volunteer work or a combination of both.
Too many Australians who retired wished later they had stayed on at work and their employers often found it hard to find a replacement worker with their experience and knowledge, he said.
“For all of these reasons, I personally believe we should consider a “seniors gap year”, made available for employees, in the lead up to the traditional retirement age,” he said.
“Like teenagers have done for decades, as they plan their studies and career paths, this “gap year” could allow older people to map out their future, while maintaining job security,” he said.
The question they would consider during this year would be what they do for the next few decades? How will they continue to contribute and harness their knowledge and skills for the benefit of society and the economy?
“Just imagine if, when we reach 60 and we are thinking of retiring, and we are given the opportunity to take 12 months’ leave without pay and go and do the grey nomad travelling, do all the things you wanted to do on your bucket list for 12 months, and then you come back and you say to your employer, I’m back, I’m ready to start working again’ he said.
Mr Wyatt said his idea was not government policy but he spoke of how after he took a redundancy package in his fifties he decided he wanted to re-enter the workforce.
National seniors policy advocate Ian Henschke said it was important for people to consider if they were ready for retirement but “I’m not sure it requires an entire gap year”.
People should experiment with retirement by using their long service leave before they retire to see if they are ready to leave the workforce, he said.
“If you took six months long service leave at half pay that would be sufficient to understand whether playing golf six days a week or doing pottery and art classes was right for you rather than working, he said.
Scott Barklamb, Director of Workplace Relations at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Australia needed creative ideas for a national discussion on retaining more Australians in work, as the Minister has provided today.
“Expanded options for flexibility seem the most productive area to look at, and we should better empower employers and their older employees to work out flexible arrangements that best meet their needs,” he said.
“Just as planning your retirement is important for individuals, succession planning is important for businesses. We would be wary of any provision that introduced greater uncertainty for business or made succession planning even more difficult,” he said.
The minister is also calling for major changes to the way we treat the aged many of whom are lonely and who live in aged care facilities where they receive no visitors at all.
He wants small houses grouped around a central kitchen and living room built to improve housing options for the aged.
“When I talk to people in Aged Care, I find so many who crave simple touch, a hug, the warmth of palms clasped together, or a soothing hand on their shoulder,’ he said.
It was distressing that 40 per cent of people in nursing homes did not receive a single visitor 365 days of the year, he said.
“Our elders should hold a special place in our society — they are not to be sent away or shunned, but remain fundamental to family groups and communities, as wisdom-givers,” Mr Wyatt said.
Older people should be valued for who they are, not just in terms of economics, but for what they have done and continue to do
Mr Wyatt on Wednesday announced a $2.8 million consultation to set out a plan for future investment for My Aged Care, this will be done in close consultation with consumers, service providers and community partners.
The government has recently embarked on a major expansion of home care services that provide help for the elderly in their own homes so they don’t need to move into aged care facilities.
Source: News Corp Australia Network October 25, 2017
AM By Brett Worthington
Australia is at risk of a pension crisis unless employers stop their “discrimination” against older workers, advocates for regional Australia have warned.
The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has warned the Federal Government’s pension bill would rise from $45 billion to $51 billion within three years, unless efforts were made to help more mature workers gain employment, particularly in regional communities.
Chief executive Jack Archer said continued unemployment of people older than 55 would cut economic growth and put a greater strain on public resources.
“We hear that there is a lot of people who would like to work, who would love to stay in the workforce either part-time or full-time even though they’re in their late 50s, 60s and even into their 70s,” he said.
“But we’re not doing a very good job of giving them the training, giving them the incentives around the pension, and working with employers to stop the discrimination around employing older workers.”
Ageing demographic in regional areas
The RAI has today released a report that outlines the economic benefits of hiring older workers, which it said would help accelerate economic growth in regional communities.
These communities are ageing at faster rates than metropolitan areas.
Mr Archer said the ageing regional demographic was partly the result of people shifting away from cities when they retired.
He said Victor Harbour in South Australia, Port Macquarie-Hastings in NSW, and East Gippsland in Victoria all had at least 20 per cent of the population reliant on the aged pension.
“It basically means you’ve got a lot of talent on the bench, a lot of people who could be involved and contributing who are sitting around homes and wishing they were doing something else,” he said.
“The social benefits of [tackling] this [will be] enormous in these regions where the impact is severe now.”
Getting older people into work
The report calls for a variety of approaches to getting more older Australians into work.
“For regions with low participation rates like the Bass Coast in Victoria or the Lockyer Valley in Queensland, the focus will be to increase workforce engagement in general,” the report stated.
“For those with high participation rates but also a high incidence of part-time employment like Augusta-Margaret River WA and Busselton WA, the policy focus will need to be more targeted towards addressing underemployment.”
The report also suggested part-time work could not only keep older people employed for longer, but it could help lure others back into work.
“As Australians approach retirement age, the opportunity for more flexible working arrangements opens up new opportunities for older Australians who want to stay engaged in the workforce, but scale down at the same time,” the report stated.
“For many, the inability to scale down to a part-time role often means having to drop out of the workforce completely.”
No luck after 150 job applications
Wagga Wagga man Peter Sweeney took a voluntary redundancy from the public sector five years ago.
The 66-year-old said when he attempted to return to employment, he was unable to secure an interview, let alone a job.
“Not everybody is ready to lay down and die,” he said.
Mr Sweeney said he applied for at least 150 jobs before he gave up his hunt.
“I had strong analytical skills, excellent communication skills — written and verbal — and investigation skills,” he said.
“I would have said they would have all been very current. I was able to cope with the applications on the internet.
“There is no doubt in my mind that my age was the thing that kept coming up.
Mr Sweeney said he became involved in a men’s shed group, where he discovered other people had been through a similar experience.
He took his superannuation as a pension and was now entitled to receive a partial aged pension.
“People have told me that they don’t like putting older people on because they’re too set in their ways,” he said.
“Their skill levels are out of date, they can’t take instruction from younger people and they’re generally too tired.
“They want young people. They want people they can socialise with, whereas the oldies are interested in different things.
“The ones that do employ seniors do it for that reason — they don’t want to mess around with a lot of people who have got too busy social lives and can’t come to work on Monday.”
Economic benefit from employing older workers
Mr Archer said as the population aged the workforce shrank, and that risked future economic growth.
But he said that could be reversed provided employers embraced an older workforce.
“In some regions we can see an extra $30 to $40 million of annual consumption in the local area as a result of lifting participation of older workers by 2 or 3 per cent,” he said.
“That then flows on to other jobs in the community.
“What that tells us is if you get the right mix of incentives, you can really have a significant impact on local economies.
“[When] those people are earning [an income], their pension bills will either disappear or be much lower and the government will get a benefit from that.”
Alan Williams, 62, is attempting to return to the workforce after nine years of unemployment but says his age appears to be a hindrance.
A leading social welfare group will form a coalition to tackle ageism in what is being described as Australia’s biggest campaign to reframe attitudes towards growing older.
The Benevolent Society announced its campaign EveryAGE Counts on Thursday, as it launched a report that revealed concerning findings about growing older.
Executive director of the Benevolent Society Kirsty Nowlan said the research, The Drivers of Ageism, showed a mismatch between perceptions about ageing and reality.
“Views about ageing have a preponderance of negativity,” she said.
“People believe that ageing is a process of inevitable decline. The reality is a lot of the fear about ageing is based on a set of myths.
“Ninety per cent of people over 65 rate their health as excellent. More than 90 per cent of older people live independently, not in a nursing home.
“There is a real dissonance between people’s beliefs and what is actually happening.”
The research found that ageist attitudes were most prevalent around employment with one-third of respondents saying employers should be able to force older workers into reduced roles, one-quarter saying bosses would get better value out of training younger workers than older ones and one-fifth saying younger people should get priority over older people for promotion.
Eighteen per cent of respondents accused people who don’t retire at 65 of stealing jobs from younger people.
Alan Williams, 62, is attempting to return to the workforce after nine years of unemployment. After his wife was diagnosed with dementia, he became her full-time carer. He said that now he is willing to return to the workforce, his age appears to be a hindrance.
“You don’t get told officially but I’ve gone for 22 jobs this month and only got two interviews,” he said. “A few others had strict instructions saying that I currently have to be employed”
Mr Williams had previously been self-employed, running a variety of successful businesses. He said that even applying for jobs at his age can be difficult, with changing technology and changing attitudes.
“I rang a recruiter and said that I was putting in an online application and that I couldn’t find anywhere to put in a cover letter. She said she never reads them anyway.
“Coming back in, technology has changed. I expected that but a lot of the terminology is different too.”
Mr Williams said many of his friends had been in a similar situation and had simply given up on looking for work at their age.
“Friends in my age group, over 50, mostly are just doing volunteering work. They applied for several jobs but just didn’t get any.
“I would like a bit more in my superannuation though. I’m happy to work until I’m 75.
“I’m even starting to look overseas so I can get back into the workforce. At least then I’m actually back in the workforce.”
The research, which involved 1400 participants of varying ages, exposed a number of other negative stereotypes about ageing.
However, it did not state an age at which a person becomes “old”.
Almost 60 per cent of respondents believed mental and physical deterioration were inevitable, 43 per cent associated old age with death and 39 per cent said growing older meant losing independence.
Negative attitudes about the cost associated with ageing also came out in the survey with 19 per cent of respondents saying the amount of money spent on healthcare for the elderly should be rationed.
People aged over 65 who took part in the survey had experienced ageism with 57 per cent saying they’d been told a joke about older people, 38 per cent reporting being patronised and 37 per cent being ignored.
Almost a third of older people said they had been turned down for a job due to their age and 14 per cent said they had been turned down for a promotion.
There were some positive perceptions with 73 per cent of people saying older people had a lot to offer younger people, 65 per cent reporting older people have a strong work ethic and 65 per cent believing older people are responsible.
Almost 80 per cent of respondents agreed that ageism was an important issue.
Australians aged 65 and over comprise about 15 per cent of the population, a proportion set to increase to 23 per cent by 2064, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Dr Nowlan said the campaign would work with governments and the private sector over the next 10 to 15 years to address ageism, a form of discrimination that is likely to affect everyone.
As part of the advocacy, the coalition will lobby for a federal minister to represent older Australians.
“We view this as a long-term campaign of the same scope and scale as the NDIS,” she said.
“This campaign is a 10- to 15-year project aimed at shifting views about growing older.
“We have been given this gift of longer, healthier life and we really ought to make the most of it.”
Source: Sydney Morning Herald