Posts Tagged “jobs for 50 plus”

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

While recently having a coffee with a friend, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation at the table next to ours. Two women in their 60s were enthusiastically discussing their jobs. Their tête-à-tête was inspiring.

Image: iStock

Inspiring woman number one was talking about how much she loves her job and how her employer has trained her to use all the technology available to make her job easier. She’s a team leader with a large cleaning company. She works part-time and job-shares with another person. She enjoys the fact that her employer is happy to be flexible and to provide ongoing training, as she’s eager to learn. The conversation turned to interviewing staff, and how often she hears older women talk about how difficult they find it to secure a job. This is particularly true, she recounted, if they’ve been out of the workforce for a while, despite the obvious life experience and work skills they have. “How lucky we are to have jobs at our age,” she said.

Inspiring woman number two agreed. She shared that she’s enjoying her job despite having moved from part-time to full-time work at the request of the employer. She says she’s happy to help her employer during a busy period and hopes eventually to move back to part-time work; she’d gladly train someone else to help make that happen.

What an uplifting conversation!

Recent research shows that these two friends are among a growing segment of Australian women. The number of older Australians in the workforce is rising, with an increased number of Aussie women working past the age of 55, according to a research report from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research entitled Two Decades of Change: The Australian Labour Market 1993-2013.

The report shows a sharp rise in the number of women aged 60 to 64 still in the labour force, from 15.2 per cent in 1993 to 45.1 per cent in 2013. The number of women aged 55 to 59 working in 2013 hit 65.3 per cent, up from 36.8 per cent in 1993.

Likewise, the number of men aged 65 or older working more than doubled over the two decades, reaching 16.9 per cent in 2013, and the number of those aged 60 to 64 increased from 48.3 per cent in 1993 to 62.5 per cent in 2013.

The good news is, these figures are increasing; the bad news is, we still have a long way to go to wipe out age discrimination.

Source: NRMA

I am 65, and for the past four years, HuffPost’s office in Los Angeles has been my work home. I am the oldest breathing soul in the building, something that I’ve grown accustomed to. I happen to like my officemates a great deal — and believe that that affection is reciprocated. But without a doubt, being the oldest employee comes with some distinctions — and life lessons. Here are a few:

1. You don’t have to be in the same life stage in order to be friends with someone.
Right now, we are celebrating two recent engagements in my office. Marriage proposal stories are such fun to hear, especially if you are a boomer who came of marriage age at a time when getting down on one knee or asking the woman’s parents for permission would likely have revoked your commune membership. Since my own husband asked me centuries ago to marry him with something like “Wanna?” I appreciate the thoughtful care that went into Ashley and Meredith’s proposals.

I am also genuinely interested in hearing the details of the weddings-in-the-works. I find myself cautioning them to not lose sight of the marriage in planning for the wedding.

In my current life stage, I’m preparing for our oldest child to leave for college in a year. My officemates have a wealth of information about the college application process and the college experience itself since it wasn’t that long ago for many of them. When my daughter applies next year, she will have benefited from the collective wisdom of these fairly recent graduates.

Our milestone events may not be the same, but the enthusiasm we have for one another’s important occasions is real. They came to my son’s Bar Mitzvah ceremony and I almost made it to Anna’s first-house party.

2. I don’t have to go to karaoke night to be part of the group.
Every office has a culture. Ours has a hipster vibe, where fun is encouraged. We work hard and we play hard. We have game nights and cocktail-tasting events. We have drink carts on Thursdays, share free bagels on Fridays and have corporate days where we volunteer. I pick and choose my spots but am always included by all. I like that. It’s the way it should be — even if I don’t show up most of the time.

When you think about it, we’ve always compartmentalized our friends. I have Mom friends and friends from my single days. I have friends from within the world of journalism and friends who are neighbors. I also have movie friends and hiking friends and trying-new-restaurant friends. I think it’s fine for boomers to have millennial friends.

3. If I’m their mentor, they are my educators.
I’m maternal by nature, which means I like to share the experience of my years — mostly about life, but sometimes about work too. And of course old dogs can be taught new tricks. Which makes us perfect. I like to think that I push the bar up journalistically here in the office. With my colleagues’ help I’ve become one of those 65-year-olds who knows more about the Internet than all her same-age friends.

4. We share indignation.
Except for my insistence that real music died about 10 years after Woodstock, our views are largely aligned. One thing I love is their support whenever I go off on age discrimination. Think about it: Many millennials can’t get their foot in the corporate door and many boomers like me have no plans to go anywhere. That alone could trigger animosities among lessers.

But in our case, they share my indignation over the small stuff that makes me explode. For example, companies that recruit for “digital natives.” I love that expression — digital natives — except when I see it in a job posting. Digital native means someone who was born with a cellphone in his or her hand. It’s been showing up lately in job postings when the company wants to hire someone young and has been cautioned against by H&R offices worried about age discrimination suits. I’m not sure how long the term “digital native” will be around, but I do know that my young friends agree with me that older people have a place in the workforce — and that we in fact enrich the office.

5. I am a walking history book, and they are the future chapters.
As digital natives — well, they are — they often encourage me to talk about the good old days of print journalism. They were shocked when I told them how 35 years ago, a county judge in New Jersey booted me out of the courtroom where I was reporting on a trial because I was wearing a pant suit. Ladies, he told me, wore skirts to his court and to do otherwise was showing disrespect. The next day, every female reporter I knew came to court with me — all of us wearing pant suits.

My young colleagues were equally stunned when I explained how I was told that I couldn’t be promoted because to do so would take a paycheck out of the hands of a “family breadwinner,” and how more than once I was asked why I didn’t just get married and have kids.

From my colleagues, I have learned how the new dress-for-success look is often my jeans and boots. They are my go-to resource for all things current. I now know where to shop, eat, drink and vacation. Heck, I even got Netflix to be able to join in the conversation.

6. Cash v. Card.
This continues to be our big divide. What is it with millennials and their aversion to cash? They all use plastic all the time for everything, including buying a soda off the food truck. I carry cash. It comes in handy for handing over to a mugger, which is precisely why I suspect they don’t carry any.

7. Technology made our lives easier.
At the risk of sounding trite, there really is an app for everything. And I thank my young colleagues for sorting through the clutter and letting me know which ones will really make my life easier. I knew about Uber, but not UberEats — which delivers a fresh lunch to my office in under five minutes. (H/T Joe Satran, HuffPost Taste writer.) From Healthy Living writer Anna Almendrala I learned about Withings, an interactive app that tracks your exercise, food, steps, weight, etc. She also was the first one to show me MyFitnessPal. And I’m a total fan of Venmo, a peer-to-peer money transfer system.

Probably more to the heart of things, they taught me that technology isn’t the big scary beast that so many of my own-age peers feel the need to dismiss disparagingly


It’s well and truly time to start thinking about how to make older workers feel welcome, experts say.

“Let’s get over our shock that older workers are going to be there longer and now ask the question about how can we make that useful and productive for everyone,” University of South Australia human resource management research professor Carol Kulik says.

“I think we really do need to be much more accommodating for older workers.”

The experts have some tips for both older workers and employers.



It’s going to be tough, it’s difficult, but the key thing is to keep at it,” says Greg Goudie, executive director of South Australian employment service DOME (Don’t Overlook Mature Expertise).


“They’ve got so much to offer. They probably don’t know how much they do have to offer,” Kronos Australia and New Zealand managing director Peter Harte says.

He advises learning how to write a resume and remarket yourself.

“You’d be surprised at the great things that person’s done that they haven’t really recorded.”


Mr Goudie says older workers shouldn’t be afraid to knock on doors, as 80 per cent of jobs that are filled are never advertised.


Mature-age people do have work experience skills, even if it’s stating that you’re able to work in a group with other people.

“A lot of employers hold that in high regard,” Mr Goudie says.


Skilled workers have a greater chance of staying in the workforce than unskilled workers, Mr Harte says.

He advises learning a different type of skill and make sure employers know they can be very flexible.


A lot of people who get to 50 and 55 and are out of work for a year can think it’s all too hard and `I’ll just give it up”, Mr Goudie says.



The federal government’s restart program – offering a $10,000 incentive to hire and retain job seekers aged 50 and over who’ve been receiving income support – may be counterproductive, Edith Cowan University psychology discipline leader Dr Eyal Gringart says.

“The message this policy sends is that older workers are inferior to younger workers and require special consideration.”


Organisations don’t signal a very strong openness to older job applicants, Prof Kulik says.

Their websites can have photos of bright, shiny young people and talk about fun and high-energy environments.

“It’s very easy I think for an older job seeker to think `that’s a signal, that’s a code for saying you don’t want somebody like me’. It’s a very discouraging process.”


Mature-age workers in organisations that adopt specific mature-age practices report high levels of engagement, Prof Kulik says.

The practices can be to help older workers upskill, having alternative career paths so an employee can move into phased retirement, take on a new work assignment or mentor junior people.


Organisations haven’t thought much about what kind of flexibility older workers need, Prof Kulik says.

It’s not start times or which days they work. It’s opportunities to take extended leaves of absence if they have to for health reasons or alternatively to travel, while maintaining their job security.


Professionals and managers tend to have more flexibility and autonomy, Prof Kulik says.

It’s not as clear what will happen for people with physically demanding jobs such as construction workers, miners and plumbers if flexibility isn’t offered, she says.

“Either we’re going to have to retrain them and do some kind of major career shift that works better or we’re going to have to be a lot more flexible about thinking about how work can be designed.”

Australia’s prosperity is at risk of being put under increasing pressure over the next four decades unless Australians work longer and productivity is improved, according to a major report due to be released today.

The ABC understands the Intergenerational Report, looking at population and budget projections to 2055, also states that economic reform is “crucial” to improve living standards. The document will be released by Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey today. Like previous long-term forecasts, the report will predict that the proportion of working Australians will decline as the nation’s population ages. By 2054-2055, the workforce participation rate is expected to be 2.2 per cent lower than today at 62.4 per cent. While the report will state “it is fantastic Australians are living longer, healthier lives” it warns there is a risk to GDP and income growth unless the Government can grapple with these demographic changes. It will suggest those not in the workforce, in particular older Australians and women, need to be encouraged to get a employment, re-enter the workforce, or prolong their careers.

To do that, the report will advocate policies to improve the accessibility of childcare, more flexible working conditions and the removal of discrimination. Australia currently trails Canada and New Zealand in terms of total workplace participation, though gains have been made in recent decades. For example, the report will show the number of working Australians aged 55 to 64 increased by roughly 18 per cent between 1978-1979 and 2013-2014. Also, the number of women in work has increased by 20 per cent since 1974-1975.

The Government is likely to use the Intergenerational Report to make the case for politically difficult policy changes in the next budget. The document will say reforms “to improve productivity will be crucial to achieve the growth in living standards” and wages. It will show average income levels have risen from about $40,500 in the early 1990s to about $66,400 today. “For every hour that is worked, Australians today produce twice as many goods and services per hour of work than they did in the early 1970s … It is no coincidence average incomes have almost doubled,” the report is expected to say. Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the “landmark report” was a vital addition to complex national policy debates. “The detail it describes … will help the public understand the context for the Government’s economic decision making over the years ahead,” Mr Frydenberg said.

Labor and Greens wary of politicisation

The Intergenerational Report will also point out that the Government needs to ensure spending is sustainable. It will contain three forecasts of the nation’s cash deficit in 2054-2055. Under the policies of the Labor Government, the report suggests the cash deficit would be 12 per cent of GDP. But under the policies the Abbott Government has managed to pass so far, it forecasts a deficit of half that, or roughly $266.7 billion in today’s dollars.

This should be an independent report and I am worried it will be used to justify savage cuts in the budget.
Greens Senator Richard Di Natale

Also, under the policies the Abbott Government has proposed but not passed, it forecasts a surplus from 2019-2020. The Opposition says it is wary the Government is manipulating the report to try to justify its “unfair budget”. “This Treasurer has manipulated the timing of the release, he’s manipulating the content,” Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said. “We know that he hasn’t accepted the Department of Immigration’s advice about what the population figures in the report should be and he’s now bringing down a chapter on the Labor Party, it appears.” The Greens plan to refer the report to a Senate committee, to scrutinise its underlying assumptions and forecasts. “So far the discussion we are hearing around the Intergenerational Report seems to indicate we’ve arrived at a conclusion before we’ve even looked at the issue in detail,” Greens Senator Richard Di Natale said. “This should be an independent report and I am worried it will be used to justify savage cuts in the budget,” he said. Source:

Friday, 19 December 2014 1:50
Which age group is guilty of chucking the most sickies?

YOLO*: young workers are more likely to fake a sick day than other age groups, according to research from Melbourne University.

Almost 40% of employees aged 18-24 and 43% of people aged 24-34admitted to faking a sick day in the past year in a poll of more than 1000 Australian workers conducted by the Centre for Workplace Leadership.

In comparison, workers over 45 years old or in senior management positions were least likely to fake a sick day.

Founder and director of the Centre for Workplace Leadership, Peter Gahan, told SmartCompany the study also looked into what employees thought of their workplace more generally and received some interesting results.

“More than twice the number of young workers were reported as taking a fake sickie than older workers,” he says.

“And about half of them who were among that group said they were not looking forward to coming into work after a weekend. I suppose it suggests to us that your past absence behaviour is probably a good indicator of future absence behaviour and the likelihood of people taking a sickie.”

Gahan says this widespread “Mondayitis” should be at the forefront of managers’ minds, and while it can be easy to label young people as lazy it is worth looking at the bigger picture.

“Given about half of them are also not looking forward to coming back to work, it tells us there is an issue with engagement and the extent to which people are happy at work,” he says.

“Have a sense of absence behaviour as an important way to get a sense of how engaged your workforce is. When people take an absence, don’t assume it’s because people are being irresponsible – it might be that you have an issue with employee engagement and satisfaction.”

“Managers need to think about how they can ensure that there is an opportunity for their workforce to express that dissatisfaction and be provided with a sense that they’re being listened to.”

Gen George, founder of short-term jobs platform OneShift, toldSmartCompany in light of the research businesses could look at how flexible their workplace is.

“I’m not justifying people lying, I just think it should be reviewed to suit the new culture at work,” George says.

“It works both ways, but maybe there’s happy medium… but of course while still protecting businesses.”

(*Maybe it’s just a case of You Only Live Once)

Source: SmartCompany 


Older workers — those who are at or approaching the traditional retirement age of 65 ­— are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce and one of the fastest-growing groups in the overall population. In the U.S. the number of individuals aged 65 or older will increase by about 66% between now and 2035. The growth is driven in part by the Baby Boomer generation, but even more so by an increased life expectancy that’s creating more healthy years for more people.

As we learned in our research for our book, Managing the Older Worker, people who are 65 today have about the same risk of mortality or serious illness as those who were in their mid-50’s a generation ago. The percentage of the population over age 65 who are at serious risk of mortality or life-threatening illness will grow by only about 16% between now and 2035, which means that there will be a huge cohort of healthy individuals in that age group who want and need to work. These changing demographics will transform the U.S. labor market and society as a whole. Any employer who wants to engage a skilled, motivated, and disciplined workforce cannot afford to ignore them.

And yet, these workers are being ignored to some extent. About three quarters of individuals approaching retirement have for some time said that they would like to keep working in some capacity, yet only about a quarter of them actually do. Something is keeping them from working, and that something is on the employer side.

Engaging the older workforce should not be such a big challenge. Older workers tend to be in the workforce because they want to be — relatively few look for jobs because they need them to survive. (During the Great Recession we heard a lot about people not being able to retire because of finances, but we’re hearing that less now.) Older workers want to keep working first and foremost because it keeps them engaged with other people, and also to feel as though they’re contributing. Money is further down the list. Older workers also know what they are getting into and what is required when they accept a job — much more so than younger workers.

So, why aren’t we seeing more older employees in the workforce? The problem seems to be getting them in the door in the first place. Discrimination is certainly one reason. Evidence suggests that we are more biased in our views of older individuals than we are of minorities and women. It’s easy to see that bias if we compare the images that come to mind when we contrast the words “older,” which brings up negative stereotypes, and “experienced,” which brings up positive ones.

The other challenge is fear. Younger supervisors are often afraid of managing older employees because these older workers have more experience than they do. The less experienced managers may wonder, “How can I say, ‘Do this because I know best’ when often I don’t know best?” Older workers may also have some initial trouble being managed by younger supervisors, especially those with less practical experience than they have. But it’s up to supervisors to shape the relationship beginning with the first interaction by saying how they want to use the older worker’s experience, while pointing out what their own responsibilities are for setting goals and holding people accountable.

It’s not just a confidence issue. Younger supervisors may find that what works with most of their staff doesn’t work for older employees. They aren’t as fearful of being fired (they’re already at retirement age) and they have less interest in promotions or a big payout in the future.

So how do you keep an older worker engaged? Start by acknowledging and using their experience. Certainly this is true for any age group: Everyone wants their expertise to be recognized, especially by the boss. But with older workers, it’s even more important, because they typically have a lot of experience — so ignoring it is especially irritating. And older workers themselves can be prickly about being managed by someone who knows less than they do.

The military has developed some good tactics for recognizing and appreciating older workers’ expertise based on the efforts of generations of junior officers fresh out of college and struggling to manage older, more experienced sergeants. Military leaders now advise those officers to treat their experienced subordinates as partners, at least behind the scenes.  The supervisor is still in charge, but he’s missing an opportunity (and is more likely to make a mistake) if he doesn’t check in with his more experienced subordinates — at least to hear their thoughts — before making important decisions. The supervisor still sets the goals and holds people accountable for meeting them. But the subordinates have a big say in the execution, and when they walk out of their private meetings with their managers, they need to be on the same page.

In the workplace, it’s useful to check in with individual older workers to ask them what problems they could foresee in executing a specific task (“Here’s what we need done”). If you don’t take any advice they offer, it’s helpful to explain why not (“I know it’s an aggressive deadline, but it’s important to finish this before the new manager takes over”).

In terms of their interests, older workers tend to be more like young workers than like their middle-aged peers. Their big financial needs are typically behind them, work is often a source of social interaction for them, and they care more about the good works that their employer might be doing than the cohorts in middle age. Supervisors should consider giving older works jobs with more customer interaction (frontline jobs) or those dealing with internal customers.

Research also suggests that putting older and young workers together helps both groups perform better. They make good allies in part because of their similar interests, but because of their different stages of life, they are less competitive with each other than workers in the same age cohort might be. That means that they are more likely to help each other and to form good teams.

The bottom line is that companies looking to increase engagement, performance, and loyalty need to do a much better job of engaging this growing — and valuable — segment of the workforce. For employers who say they want a workforce that can “hit the ground running,” that doesn’t need training or ramp-up time to figure out what to do, that will be conscientious, and that knows how to get along with others, older workers are the perfect match.