Posts Tagged “experience matters”

Date:  November 23, 2015 
Sham contracting is a big issue in the cleaning industry.

Sham contracting is a big issue in the cleaning industry.

There are many ways in which big  businesses try to get an unfair advantage over small businesses and also their own employees. A common practice for many years has been to rechristen employees and class them as contractors.

An industry that would appear to be overrepresented  in forcing employees to become contractors is the cleaning industry. In some cases extremely large businesses try to hide behind supposed business arrangements with contracting companies.

Myer has been accused of aiding and abetting contracting companies maximising their profits to the detriment of employees classed as contractors.

In July 2015 The Age revealed cleaners at Myer department stores working for a cleaning services company called A&K Saana Services were being paid a flat hourly rate and not in accordance with the relevant award. An investigation undertaken by the Fair Work Ombudsman found that nine cleaning staff had been underpaid by $6300 in a month.

A Myer spokesman at the time had said, “the company took its duties as a responsible Australian employer seriously”, this comment has to be called into question as a result of a new case involving Myer.

The 7.30 Report reported on November 18 Myer was using another contract cleaning business, Spotless, where cleaners were classed as contractors, made to get their own ABN, were paid below the award rate and had to look after their own tax, superannuation, and insurance obligations.

Q. I work for a cleaning company using my own ABN. I have been advised by the company that I must get registered for GST and I will have to pay the 10 per cent GST out of my own earnings. As my annual income is only about $35,000 why should I have to get registered for GST?

A. You do not have to get registered for GST from an income tax point of view. It would appear that the cleaning company you are working for have turned the practice of making employees work as sham contractors into an art form.

On the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website, the differences between contractors and employees are clearly spelled out. The factors that determine whether someone is an employee are shown as:

  • have their work directed and controlled by their employer
  • work set or standard hours (casual employees hours can vary from week to week)
  • usually have an ongoing expectation of work
  • bear no financial risk – it’s covered by their employer’s insurance
  • are provided by their employer with tools or a tool allowance is provided
  • have income tax deducted by their employer
  • are paid wages or a salary regularly
  • are entitled to paid leave.

Alternatively independent contractors are shown as having the following factors:

  • have a high level of control over how the work is done, including the choice to hire others to assist
  • agree to the hours required to complete the job
  • usually engaged for a specific task or time
  • bear the risk of making a profit or a loss and usually bears responsibility and liability for poor work or injury and usually have their own insurance
  • use their own tools and equipment
  • pay their own tax and GST
  • have an ABN and submits invoices
  • don’t receive paid leave.

The tests applied by the ATO to decide whether someone is running a business, or is really an employee, are similar to those used by the Fair Work Ombudsman. What the cleaning company is asking you to do would appear to breach not only employment laws but also income tax and compulsory superannuation guarantee contribution regulations.

On the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website where the differences between employees and contractors are listed, see the link above, there is another link that allows employees wrongly classed as contractors to try and resolve the workplace issue of them being incorrectly classed as a contractor.

Source:  The Brisbane Times

A national inquiry has heard that society’s obsession with youth and looks is driving down the age when bosses consider employees to be past their use-by date.

Official complaints to federal and state advocates about age discrimination start well before retirement age, with Queenslanders complaining that they are being sacked and passed over for work from their 40th birthday.

Cases include an employee in the 45-54 age bracket who was told they were too old to use the stairs at work and fired for safety reasons.

Another was made redundant because the company needed “fresh faces”.

Age and Disability Commissioner Susan Ryan is currently touring the country as part of a Federal Government inquiry into age and disability discrimination in Australian workplaces.

 

 

Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks. Picture: Bruce Long

Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks. Picture: Bruce Long

 

 

She said there was an “infatuation with youth’’ and HR managers had admitted to her that they preferred younger workers. “It makes no sense but it happens,” she said.

She said 45 year olds were finding doors “shut in their face everywhere they go”.

The issue came to the fore at a recent meeting of national HR managers, who admitted hirers – often in their 30s – did have a bias against people older than themselves.

Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks said the problem was across industries and genders, although he nominated flight attendants, the media and academia as memorable cases he had seen.

Despite previously having a successful career in consulting, Sue, 65, who is now a retail worker in Brisbane’s CBD, said she was repeatedly knocked back when she attempted to re-enter the workplace as an over 50.

“I applied for 180 jobs in a matter of weeks. I have no doubt it had to do with my age,” Sue said.

 

Source:  The Courier Mail

Older people learning barista skills

A national inquiry into age and disability discrimination in the workforce has heard some Tasmanian workers are being told that they are too old for jobs they are applying for.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s Willing to Work Inquiry has heard from about 60 older workers and employers and peak interest groups in Launceston and Hobart.

It examined practices, attitudes and laws that deny or reduce older people and people with a disability access to equal employment opportunities.

Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan said urgent reform was needed.

“We hear that sometimes [older workers] are told directly by employment agencies that they’re too old for the job they’re interested in,” she said.

“In other cases they’re not told that directly but they never get feedback as to why they’re unsuccessful in applying for a job for which they’re very qualified.

“We hear that older workers are asked to put their age on applications, when they should not have to do that.

“The purpose of that is to discriminate against them, there’s no other purpose in doing that.”

Older workers ‘angry and frustrated’

She said the ramifications of age discrimination were devastating on families.

“We hear that by and large older workers feel that they don’t have a fair chance to get a job when there’s one advertised,” she said.

“Of course for a person say in their 50s who still has a lot of household expenses, mortgage, kids and so forth this is absolutely devastating.”

Sue Leitch from the Tasmanian Council on the Ageing interviewed a handful of older Tasmanians before giving evidence in Hobart.

She said they were angry and frustrated.

“There is a high level of frustration that is being felt by people that are either looking for work or are in work places where there’s not necessarily good work culture towards older people,” she said.

“What we’re finding in some of the restructures that have been going on in organisations is that people in their early 50s are being earmarked for redundancies and virtually tapped on the shoulder.”

Commissioner Ryan said Tasmania was improving and she welcomed the development of a diversity and inclusion plan for the public service.

“Which will lead to those departments and agencies putting in place strategies to give mature workers and workers with disability more opportunities,” she said.

“So I think we’re going to see some improvements here in Hobart.”

A report will be prepared for the Commonwealth Government by June next year.

Topics: discriminationcommunity-and-societyworktas

The Age older workers

 

A federal government program designed to get older Australians back into work has been branded a dismal failure, with only 1700 people joining the scheme meant to benefit 32,000.

Department of Employment documents reveal just 1735 people took advantage of the Restart scheme in its first year of operation – about 5 per cent of the government’s target.

Announced with much fanfare in the 2014 budget, the program provides a wage subsidy of up to $10,000 to employers who give jobs to people aged over 50 who have been unemployed for more than six months.

Labor said the program is clearly missing the mark. Advertisement “It’s the government’s program that needs a restart as it’s proving to be a dismal failure,” opposition spokesman Brendan O’Connor​ said. “No amount of rhetorical flourish from the Prime Minister can hide the real reason the program doesn’t work – there simply are not the jobs available.”

But Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the government remains “firmly committed” to the program, which is part of a $1 billion investment to establish a single wage subsidy pool.

She said the program has now helped a total of 2500 mature-age workers, including those helped since July 1. “Restart is a demand-driven programme and the government budgeted for a maximum uptake of 32,000,” she said.

Nonetheless, Ms Cash has announced changes designed to improve uptake. The subsidy will now be paid over 12 months rather than 24 and other measures have been taken to reduce complexity and red tape.

Older workers face significant barriers to entering the workforce. On average, they spend 61 weeks on the unemployment queue, compared to 37 weeks for all other people.

“That is why Restart was developed, to give an added incentive to employers to hire a mature-age worker,” Ms Cash said. Both major parties have long struggled to encourage employers to hire mature-age Australians. Indeed, just 230 employers took advantage of a $1000 annual subsidy under the two-year life of the Rudd/Gillard government’s Experience+Jobs Bonus scheme, which was also designed to get over 50s into work. It was meant to benefit up to 10,000 employers.

Source: The Age/Adam Gartrell

A federal government plan to boost mature-age employment has fallen spectacularly short of its target.

A government plan is offering older job-seekers little assistance. Photo: Shutterstock

The Restart scheme needs to be restarted. That’s the verdict of the Department of Employment, which is set to overhaul the wage subsidy program, designed to get older Australians back to work, from November 1.

Introduced in the 2014 federal budget, the $524.8 million Restart scheme offered up to $10,000 over two years to employers willing to take on workers aged over 50.

The original target was to secure work for 32,000 mature-age jobseekers every year, but enquiries made by The New Daily to the Department of Employment reveal that the scheme found jobs for just 2318 people during its first 15 months.

The employment situation only got worse for mature-age workers after the launch of the program – in the year to January 2015, there were 80,000 unemployed Australians aged 55 and over, an increase of 12 per cent over the year before.

The Human Rights Commission’s National Prevalence Survey of Age Discrimination in the workplace found 27 per cent of Australians aged 50-plus indicated they had experienced some form of age discrimination in the workplace in the past two years.

job-seek-291015-newdaily

One such mature-age worker struggling to find a gig is 61-year-old Michael Oates, who worked in work health and safety for local government in Adelaide until he lost his job three years ago.

He was told by recruiters his 40 years of experience in the area was a disadvantage not an advantage, and after applying for dozens of jobs in his field of expertise without so much as an interview, he started to believe them.

Mr Oates then started applying outside his area for any kind of work at all, and didn’t even hear back from employers advertising casual low-skill roles.

“Because you don’t hear anything, you almost give up,” he said.

“You think – what’s the point?”

Mr Oates, who currently keeps himself busy by volunteering with DOME, a mature-age recruitment service, is in a particularly competitive environment: South Australia, where unemployment is easily the highest in the nation.

The latest unemployment figures show the state’s jobless rate hovering at 7.9 per cent.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 30: A general view of the Holden manufacturing plant at Elizabeth shows the company logo on July 30, 2013 in Adelaide, Australia. Holden, a subsidiary of American car giant General Motors recently reduced its staff in Adelaide by 400, in an effort to reduce operating costs. Holden and other local car manufacturers have received years of both federal and state government grants, and PM Kevin Rudd recently said he was "...determined to see this industry survive into the future." (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)

South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) executive director Ross Womersley told The New Daily the idea behind the government’s wage subsidy program seemed good, but he is concerned at how it has worked in practice.

“It is incredibly regrettable,” he said.

“On the back of the performance so far, I’d be tempted to call for a review [of Restart], some development of insight as to why it isn’t attracting the interest that it should.

“Is it simply employers don’t know about scheme, or that employers don’t rate it?

“Or is there something in the mechanisms of administration that make it difficult and cumbersome to deal with?”

He said wage subsidies gave mature-age workers a chance to prove themselves, but expressed concern that workers might be pushed out of their existing jobs if the money stopped coming in.

What’s on offer?

The Restart program was originally due to be reassessed in June 2016, but under former employment minister Eric Abetz it was announced in the 2015/16 budget that changes would be brought in well ahead of that date, aiming to increase take-up and reduce complexity for employers.

newdaily_290314_EricAbetz

From this coming Sunday, employers will be able to access the subsidy of $10,000 over 12 months instead of two years.

Rather than waiting out a qualifying period, employers will be able to start receiving the subsidy from the moment the mature-age worker starts work, receiving up to $6500 over a 12-month period and a bonus of up to $3500 for employment which lasts the full 12 months.

There are also special provisions to be introduced for employers taking on 10 or more mature-aged workers to co-ordinate payment times with the costs of group training and induction programs.

The half-a-billion dollars in funding for the Restart scheme has been moved into a single wage subsidy pool of $1.2 billion over four years, shared with three other employment incentive schemes.

System vulnerable to exploitation

When the revamp was first announced COTA (formerly Council on the Ageing) chief executive Ian Yates expressed concern that the pooling of wage subsidiary budgets could see the money allocated for mature-age workers spent elsewhere.

Shutterstock

He slammed the lack of other measures to address age discrimination, as well as the requirement that the funding only apply to mature-age workers who have been out of a job for at least six months, and the shortening of time over which employers could receive the full wage subsidy.

“We are concerned that this could lead to some employers churning older employees on short contracts so employers benefit from the incentive but the workers become unemployed again,” he said.

The wage subsidy program is not the only action being taken on mature-age workers, with the Attorney-General having ordered a national inquiry into discrimination against older and disabled workers.

The inquiry is currently undertaking a series of consultations and roundtables around Australia, with the next stop in unemployment hotspot Adelaide on November 2.

Source:  The New Daily

Posted: 
AGEING WORKERS

The most recent ABS employment statistics confirm the employment rate has remained stable at 6.2 percent for the third consecutive month, a reasonably good trend for Australia as a whole.

But this does not reveal the key employment issues affecting older workers. The only element of the data which can provide a glimpse into older people’s working or non-working lives is the decrease in the level of men and women in full-time employment, which can partly be attributed to the increasing number of people retiring accompanied with falling numbers of young people entering the workforce.

This is only one side of the story, though, and merely scratches the surface of the challenges that mature-age job seekers face. Two of those challenges are age discrimination in the recruitment process and intergenerational competition from younger colleagues for positions or promotions.

For example, ABS data from last quarter shows an increase in underemployment in both men and women aged over 55 who did not have as many working hours as they would like, which potentially results in not being able to make as an effective impact in their workplace as they wish.

Other hidden issues facing older workers include the limited training and promotional opportunities available to them, which can result in a lack of career progression, cuts to the number of work hours against employee’s wishes, inflexible working conditions, and less opportunity to take on responsibility within the workplace.

All this can lead to older people ‘self-selecting’ out of the labour market — a situation that is economically unsustainable, particularly given the government push for prolonging working lives.

This situation has occurred because employers, recruiters and wider society are largely unaware of, or choose to ignore, the numerous benefits that a healthy and productive older workforce can bring to a business, such as experience, knowledge, skills and mentoring abilities.

The effect of mature-age unemployment and underemployment has multiple and complex far reaching implications on several areas, including an individual’s finances, physical and mental health and general wellbeing.

Yet, mature age labour force participation is just the tip of the iceberg.

As a society we do not yet fully understand, let alone are prepared to deal with, the impending issues facing ageing populations. For example, how will our health system respond? What effect will it have on the economy? What are the entrepreneurial and commercial opportunities? What innovative responses will dominate? The consideration of just one issue in isolation, such as employment, is therefore futile.

Crucial to responding to the complex issues of ageing populations, including foreseeable workforce challenges and opportunities, will be an interdisciplinary approach to ageing. We need to consider local and global topics, encourage innovation and foster strong leadership in this area. But, most importantly, we need to fill the leadership gaps that exist and create champions in an interdisciplinary, intergenerational and international approach to ageing.

Through university programs and research collaborations, policy makers, business professionals and other university graduates are well placed to become the leaders we need in the rapidly expanding ageing sector.
They are the ones who can shift the focus of ageing, remove barriers for older people and place living a healthy and productive life as a vital policy priority.

This must be accompanied with a seismic shift in thinking from that of the current narrative of impending chaos and doom, to one of growth, innovation and opportunity.

Fostering interdisciplinary research and cultivating qualified professionals with a holistic overview will be the positive and productive way forward to achieving that.

Source:  The Huffington Post – Author   

Lecturer in the Academic of the Ageing in Society program at the University of Melbourne

 

Businesses benefit from hiring mature-age staff.

Businesses benefit from hiring mature-age staff.

BABY Boomers have been the backbone of Australia’s workforce for many years.

The boomer generation, which numbers more than 5.5 million, has helped build the country’s economy and shape its society.

And, over the next decade or two, they’ll change that working landscape yet again as they retire from paid employment.

This exodus will have an impact across Australia, including in the Geelong region. Mature-age workers bring valuable expertise, knowledge and life experience to Geelong’s varied businesses and organisations.

They add diversity, productivity and stability and play a crucial role in mentoring our next wave of workers and leaders.

And many of them are not ready to go. They’re reluctant to down tools, pack away the briefcase and leave their jobs — for financial reasons, personal choice and a strong sense of purpose.

Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data reveals a significant increase in employment numbers over the past five years for older workers in the Geelong region, which includes the City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire, Borough of Queenscliffe and most of Golden Plains Shire.

In mid-2010 there were about 17,300 people aged 55 years and over in part and full-time employment.

Flip the calendar to mid-2015, and that figure has jumped by 6900 to about 24,200.

That’s good news for Geelong’s employers. Businesses can and do benefit greatly from productive mature-age workers but they’ll need to take a flexible approach to keep that valuable intellectual capital within their ranks as retirement beckons.

Options of part-time work and flexible hours make paid employment more attractive to mature-age people looking to balance a job with lifestyle changes as they transition towards retirement.

And it might be enough to keep this valuable human resource within Geelong’s workforce for longer.

But it’s not just skills and knowledge that slip away as mature-age workers retire.

Workplace participation rates across Australia will be impacted too, with governments’ strongly encouraging older people to remain in employment longer to stave off a forecast shrinking pool of workers in coming decades and help counteract the economic ramifications of an ageing population.

While the catchcry of “youth are our future” is true, we ignore the mature-age worker at our peril. They’re important now and will remain so in the future.

— Rob Birch is chief executive officer of Gforce Employment Solutions, which supplies employment services to Geelong, Ballarat and Wyndham regions.

 

Source:  Geelong Advertiser

Monday, September 21st, 2015 – Happening People

The number of Australians aged 65 and over is projected to more than double by 2055. As our population ages and workforce shrinks, there are increasingly calls for businesses to tap into its ‘grey army’ – the often under-utilised cohort of skilled Australians aged 50 and over.

Recently, a new report commissioned by the Australian Human Rights Commission show more than a quarter of Australians aged 50 and over reported experiencing some form of age discrimination in the workplace during the past two years. This figure increases for those aged 55 to 64. And when managers were asked if they factored age into their decision-making, a third responded they did.

As any successful business owner will tell you, the key to a well oiled and financially stable establishment lies in its greatest asset – its people.

The loss of knowledge as senior and experienced workers retires impacts organisations. When older workers are overlooked, it’s the employers who miss out. Business leaders and HR Directors need to understand the key to staying viable and successful is to develop workplace practices that will help you attract and retain older employees.

Here are just a few benefits that mature-age workers can bring to your organisation:

  1. Knowledge: older workers have often accumulated a wealth of knowledge, experience and skills during their time in the workforce, which are valuable assets to business
  2. Desirable traits: they are generally highly dependable and committed with more life experience and wisdom
  3. Established networks and external experiences: assets which also add value to business
  4. Workplace training and mentoring: mature-age workers’ wealth of knowledge and experience are valuable resources in workplace training and mentoring programs, helping businesses save costs on staff development and knowledge transfer
  5. Matching profiles with customer base: as the population ages, mature age employees will increasingly reflect the profiles of your customer base, allowing them to better empathise with and meet the needs of customers.

There needs to be a shift in attitude and a push by business leaders and HR Directors to hire and retain older workers. Part two of this post will cover some strategies that businesses can employ to encourage workers over the age of 50 to work beyond the traditional age of retirement.

Recognising the value skilled workers aged 50 and over can bring is only the first step in creating a sustainable workforce. Business leaders and HR Directors also need to employ appropriate strategies and practices to help them attract and retain this cohort of older workers and encourage them to work beyond the traditional age of retirement. Here are some strategies below:

  1. Ensure there are age-friendly policies and practices in place in your organisation to combat stereotyping and discrimination against older employees
  1. Provide flexible work options. Unlike younger employees, many older workers are at a stage in their lives where they have commitments around extended family and caring for others. Catering to their changing lifestyle needs can encourage older workers to stay in the workforce longer.Flexible work arrangements can be offered in a variety of forms, some of which include: shifting to part-time position or job-sharing; flexible work hours adjusted to accommodate older workers’ family commitments; working from home; and working as consultant after retirement.
  2. Work with your mature-age employees to establish a tailored phased-retirement plan and reduce their working time and workload in a staggered approach over an agreed period.
  3. Offer your older employees tailored training and up-skilling to help them sustain workplace competencies to meet the requirements of the workplace and keep up with the pace of change.
  1. Give your valued mature-age employees the option of transferring to a role with fewer responsibilities and reduced pay can help keep them in the workforce longer and retain vital corporate knowledge and skills.

As Australia’s labour pool shrinks, the importance of engaging and retaining older skilled workers becomes an increasingly pressing priority.

Business leaders need to recognise the value and potential its ‘grey army’ can offer and then put in place appropriate strategies to tap into this under-utilised resource. If not, our future productivity will likely suffer.

Source:  Happening People

Alex MaritzSwinburne University of Technology

Senior entrepreneurs are Australia’s fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs, despite facing significant barriers including ageism and a lack of financial support, according tonew research from the Swinburne University of Technology and Queensland University of Technology.

The research, funded by National Seniors Australia, studied more than 400 seniors through interviews, focus groups and online surveys. Key findings include:

  • 34% of all young firms in Australia are now led by seniorpreneurs
  • The average age of seniorpreneurs is 57
  • Seniorpreneurs work about five fewer hours than younger entrepreneurs each week and have almost double the industry experience.

The research also found seniorpreneurs invest, on average, A$1.2 million more in their business than younger entrepreneurs, and their firms earn more than twice the profits.

More than a third of seniorpreneurs can be classified as “serial entrepreneurs” who start multiple ventures. The entrepreneurship rate of 8% for the 55-64 age group in Australia is 3 percentage points higher than the average for innovation-driven economies.

Our research also found seniorpreneurs are more capable of starting a business than their younger peers.

Attracted by work life-balance, they have more developed networks, better business experience, superior technical and managerial skills, and a stronger financial position than younger entrepreneurs.

But there are significant barriers in Australia for seniorpreneurs.

Many face a lack of financial support and insufficient information on how to run a business.

The research indicates that ageism barriers include declining health, financial disincentive, age discrimination, the opportunity cost of time, and lack of awareness about entrepreneurship.

There is also insufficient government support for current and aspiring seniorpreneurs, despite the high likelihood that helping people aged 50 and over to participate in business startups could increase workforce participation in Australia and reveal a new generation of

A global trend

Seniorpreneurship is becoming a global phenomenon. In the United States, nearly a quarter of new ventures in 2013 were started by those aged 55 to 64, according to theEwing Marion Kauffman Foundation entrepreneurship think tank. Remarkably, Americans in that age bracket are starting businesses at a higher rate than those in their twenties or thirties.

The United Kingdom is also active in seniorpreneurship. Several policy initiatives are lifting its entrepreneurship activity and helping older people create their job. The UK’s PRIME initiative, for example, helped unemployed people over 50 find work through self-employment.

Australia, by comparison, lacks entrepreneurship policies and initiatives in the 50-plus market. Our governments tend to focus on younger entrepreneurs or on retraining older workers so they can apply for another job.

There has been little recognition of the potential of older Australians to participate in startups and turn them into larger businesses that employ people. Or of the need for older Australians to create their next job, not only apply it.

As the population ages and more workers are displaced by technology, a stronger culture of entrepreneurship is needed. It must not exclude older workers as they have knowledge, networks and access to resources that younger entrepreneurs often do not.

Understanding seniorpreneurship

Over the years, senior entrepreneurs have been referred to as seniorpreneurs, grey entrepreneurs, latepreneurs, third-age entrepreneurs, and second-career or mature-aged entrepreneurs. But few local studies have studied them in detail or informed government policy.

Our research goal was to understand why mature workers choose self-employment as a late-career option and become “opportunity entrepreneurs” – as distinct from “necessity entrepreneurs”, older workers who are pushed or pulled into self-employment because they need a job or have to supplement their retirement income.

There is much more to it than an ageing population driving more Australians into older age brackets, and entrepreneurship rates in this group rising by default. Our research shows considerable interest among mature workers to pursue business opportunities.

About 80% of survey respondents significantly valued the non-financial benefits of self-employment, such as lifestyle and health preferences. For many, starting a business is a key to active ageing and extending their working life.

Intuitively, this makes sense. As people lead longer, healthier lives, more will feel more capable of launching a startup later in life than in previous generations.

A changing workforce will also drive higher rates of seniorpreneurship as more people move between full-time work and self-employment. Starting a business will become a viable option – perhaps the only option – for a growing number of mature workers who are made redundant and cannot find comparable employment elsewhere.

Moreover, technology is making it easier and cheaper to start businesses and the ageing population represents an opportunity for seniorpreneurs who understand the needs of this market and can turn their problems into opportunities.

Policy considerations

Much can be done to help seniorpreneurs. Our research found governments can increase awareness of the feasibility of seniorpreneurship, and enhance motivations, skills and opportunities for it.

Governments could also establish legislative support mechanisms for seniorpreneurship, and provide specialist advice and information.

Targeting training and education for nascent and current seniorpreneurs, mentorship activities and networking facilities are other opportunities. Schemes that help seniors access capital to start ventures, link young and old entrepreneurs, and incentivise seniorpreneurs, are other among other recommendations.

Governments must act. Assuming entrepreneurship is mostly a “young person’s game” is a form of ageism Australia cannot afford.

Alex Maritz, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurshipm and Innovation; Education Director: ARC Training Centre in Biodevices, Swinburne University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Our population is getting older. Between 2012 and 2022, the number of people aged between 50 and State Pension age will rise by almost four million, while the numbers aged 16 to 49 will fall – and amazingly, one in three babies born today is expected to live to 100.  It is, of course, good news that most people can expect to live much longer.

And the even better news is that most of the increasing numbers of older people will be fitter and healthier for longer too.  This means we need to update our concept of what ‘old’ means and alter the stereotypes, particularly of older people in the workplace.

Change is already beginning as employers are starting to realise what they stand to lose if their older staff leave.  Some firms are finding ways to retain their more mature workers, making it easier for them to keep on working in later life.  I would urge all employers to take this issue seriously.  If they don’t, they risk losing a large chunk of their workforce – and valuable skills in coming years.

Enabling those who want to work longer has the power to make British businesses more competitive and increase our country’s economic activity significantly.

Many older people want to keep working. Not only can this benefit their income and general wellbeing, it could also provide a significant boost to their pensions, as well as to the economy.

Since 2011, the Government has outlawed forced retirement at age 65.  This has allowed record numbers to stay in work – more than 1million over 65s are now choosing to keep working.

Looking to the future

Since my report earlier this year ‘A New Vision for Older Workers: Retain, Retrain, Recruit’, when I was the Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers, progress has been made.

Numerous employers have written to tell me  what they are doing to break the age barriers, including committing to mid-life career reviews for their workforce and providing advice to line-managers on how to support their female staff during the menopause. And there are many more areas that employers are exploring.  For example, as they facilitate childcare needs for younger workers, they are considering how to support older employees who may have caring responsibilities.

In turn the Government is also increasing the support available to help older people return to work.  Too many over 50s find it too difficult to re-join the labour market in later life, but desperately want to, so we have introduced ‘Older workers’ champions in Jobcentres around the country, as well as a number of pilots to support older people into work by helping them to build their confidence and skills.

Waking up to the benefits of older workers

One firm that has certainly recognised the benefits of older workers is Barclays. It has actively promoted an apprenticeship programme to encourage a range of people to apply – including the over 50s. You may have seen their adverts on TV this week.

The Head of Apprenticeships at Barclays, Mike Thompson, wants to recruit people of all ages and backgrounds. He finds the life experience and empathy that older workers bring, often helps when speaking to customers.

I absolutely agree with this. Having a diverse workforce – including an age diverse workforce – enables a business to reflect its customer base; to better understand and better serve its whole range of clients in an ageing population.

Angela is one of the Barclays scheme’s new recruits. She is 51 and has successfully secured an apprenticeship with the firm. Before joining, she cared for her father for a number of years, but was keen to re-join the workforce. She now has the opportunity to be supported in learning new skills and progressing with her career.

She feared employers would not be interested in her, but is really enjoying her new role and enjoys being part of, what she calls, the “hustle and bustle” of working life.

Still a long way to go

But of course some employers have yet to see the light. Overcoming ageism and other barriers to encourage fuller working lives remains a priority for me.  I will continue to update you on our progress. 

As we can look forward to living longer, we need to re-think what ‘old’ looks like and dispel any myths that over 50s or over 60s will all soon be ‘past it’ – most of them can benefit from learning new skills and taking on new challenges. 

Nowadays, being over 50 does not necessarily mean you will soon stop work.  Employers who harness the talent, dedication, loyalty and enthusiasm of the over 50s will reap significant benefits in future.  Taking this issue seriously can help everyone – it is good for ourselves, our economy and our nation’s success.