Posts Tagged “mature age jobs”

One in two hiring managers have witnessed age discrimination in their organisations’ recruitment processes, according to research released today.

The Robert Walters whitepaper, based on a survey of more than 930 hiring managers and 1,500 professionals in Australia and New Zealand, shows many professionals also reported experiencing age discrimination during their careers.

Some 74 per cent of Baby Boomers said they had been discriminated against in a job interview because of their age, followed by 36 per cent of Gen X workers and 34 per cent of Gen Y workers, the research found.

And on top of the 50 per cent of hiring managers who had seen age discrimination in their organisation’s recruitment, 58 per cent said they had seen colleagues overlooked for career progression because of their age.

Gen Y claim to be the most hard done by in this area, with 84 per cent claiming they were discriminated against, followed by 54 per cent of Baby Boomers and 33 per cent of Gen X.

The whitepaper blames unconscious bias, saying an example of this is the disconnect between the different age groups’ stated work preferences, and how hiring managers view them.

Source: Generation gaps? Mythbusting assumptions about age in the workforce

Ageism ‘too salient to ignore’

Another study, conducted by University of South Australia academics, found nearly a third of people had experienced some form of age-related discrimination while employed or looking for work in the past 12 months, according to researcher Justine Irving.

Irving told HR Daily that while studying retirement intentions, the researchers found significant evidence of ageism, which was “so salient that we thought, ‘we can’t ignore this'”.

In their resulting survey of 2,100 people aged 45 years and over, the researchers found many believed they had been on the receiving end of negative assumptions regarding their skills, learning abilities or cognition.

“There was a perception of older workers that because they were a certain age they would struggle to pick up new work systems, particularly technological-based systems,” Irving says.

There was also an assumption they would take longer to learn new things, and work more slowly, she says.

Negative generalisations about employees’ work capacity as they get older is “quite systemic”, she adds, noting ageism isn’t specific to the workforce. “It actually crosses all different levels of society, so I think that in the workplace, you just see it because it’s something that affects people’s ability to maintain and retain work.

“I believe it is slowly changing, but I think it’s just one of those things that will take time.”

The researchers also found participants experienced limited opportunities for training and promotion, Irving says.

“There was an assumption that ‘they’re a bit older, they’re likely to retire in the near future, it’s not something they would be interested in’.”

Participants reported that when they were asked to act in management or supervisor roles, they were often not considered for the position permanently – “they were always looked at as temporary or stop gaps, rather than actually being considered as somebody appropriate for that role into the future”.

Another finding was that when people decided to change careers or move state, for example, and had long work histories, higher education levels, and extensive experience and qualifications, they would suddenly “hit a wall” in their careers.

“So they would put their applications in, everything would go along swimmingly, until they got to the interview stage, and they said that they would see the [recruiters’] faces change once they saw them, and they put that down to their age,” Irving says.

“A lot of recruiters would tell them, ‘oh you weren’t considered, I’m sorry, because you’re overqualified or too experienced’, but how these people interpreted that – because they heard it so often – was ‘this just means you’re too old’.”

To ensure age discrimination doesn’t occur in the workplace, HR professionals must first identify whether employees have conscious, or unconscious, age-related assumptions, Irving says.

“Some people don’t think they have ageist attitudes, but if they looked at the way they judged a particular applicant or looked at their own policies, or their recruitment break up, perhaps they might see there are patterns emerging,” she says.

Educating and training managers to “rebut age-related negative assumptions and generalisations”, and having policies that encourage diversity and inclusion in the workforce, can also help, she adds.

Robert Walters recommends employers help managers and employees identify unconscious bias and factor this into their decision-making.

Source:  hrdaily

Employers have been encouraged to consider older job candidates, after an 89-year-old man in the UK who claimed he was “dying from boredom” successfully found a job.

The Guardian reports Joe Bartley, an elderly resident of Devon, England, posted a job advert in the local newspaper last month seeking 20 hours of work a week.

“Senior citizen 89 seeks employment in Paignton area. 20hrs+ per week. Still able to clean, light gardening, DIY and anything. I have references. Old soldier, airborne forces. Save me from dying of boredom!” Bartley wrote.

Read more: One in four older Australians experience age discrimination at work: Study

Just two days after The Guardian’s article, Bartley received two offers of part-time work and has accepted a hospitality role with a local family-run café.

The café’s owner Sarah Martin told the Guardian, “no matter what your age or your background, you deserve a chance”.

“A lot of people who come here don’t just come for coffee, they come for a chat, so Joe is perfect,” Martin told The Guardian.

“How often do you get an 89-year-old person approaching you and saying he wants to work? Usually, we have to go out and find people, and when we get them, sometimes they don’t even want to work.”

Bartley also received a job offer from a bakery in a nearby town, but reportedly turned it down, as he could not easily travel to the business.

Psychologist Eve Ash believes businesses everywhere should consider hiring older workers, saying many of them a “defying expectations”.

“We typically don’t associate working with older people, we typically associate them with sitting around and taking it easy,” Ash says.

“We need to see fewer age judgements. There’s a perception once you hit 70, it’s time on from then on.”

“A whole new workforce”

Ash believes a whole new workforce exists in people over the age of 70, with older workers having “a different type of determination and stamina”. Ash’s own father still works as a land surveyor at the age of 92, with no plans to retire until he hits 100.

Some concessions do need to be made when considering older workers, Ash says, as “40 hour, nine to five jobs” are generally not suitable.

“At any age over 70 there are certain things need to be tested, like driving skills. Older workers are also more suited to shorter weeks and irregular working hours,” Ash says.

“There’s a wide range of things older people could be doing, like customer service or minding things.”

“We need to remove these concepts of age [limiting] employability potential.”

Ash says more evidence is needed to see exactly what sort of jobs are suitable for older workers, but firmly believes they are more likely to “have the time and the care to do things”.

“We might discover they have amazing positive mood characteristics, and in the workplace, this is extremely important,” she says.

It was not reported how many hours Bartley would be working at the café, but on Sundays, he will catch a lift with his boss to work, while catching the bus the rest of the time.

“We think about these things all the time. We are never going to be rich, but we like to give something back, so when we saw the advert there was no question – the minute we saw it we knew we’d give him a job,” Martin told The Guardian.

Source: Startupsmart

 

A Hazelwood worker has labelled tax rules that stop him from qualifying for a genuine redundancy as unjust, and is calling for the rule to be reviewed.

Denis Clough, 66, will not qualify for what the Australian Tax Office (ATO) classifies as a genuine redundancy when the Hazelwood power station shuts its doors in March, because of his age.

Workers who receive a genuine redundancy do not pay tax on part of their termination payment, but payments to workers over the preservation age of 65 years — the age from which a person can access their superannuation — are called employment termination packages (ETP) and do not have the same tax benefits.

Mr Clough has worked in the industry all his life, and started work at Hazelwood 36 years ago.

Older Hazelwood workers get less

He described the moment a colleague pointed out he would pay about $80,000 of his nearly $330,000 pay-out in tax as “shocking”.

Mr Clough said although the smaller payout would not put his plans of being a self-funded retiree at risk, he was angry he was being treated differently because of his age.

“I would have retired in a couple of years and basically ended up with the same money I’ll get by going a couple of years earlier, but I would have preferred to go to work a few more years,” Mr Clough said.

“It’s really just the principle. It’s as if the ATO is being made redundant, not me.

“I’m one of the lucky ones that I could have retired anyway, but there’s people, I don’t know what they’re going to do for a job, how they’re going to pay their debts.

“My real complaint is I just think this is morally wrong, that what they’re doing taxing this as an employment termination package.

“I just would like some politician explain to me how he can morally justify it.”

Australians working longer and retiring later

Financial planner Ben Lancaster has backed Mr Clough’s call for change.

Mr Lancaster said with Australians working longer, it may be time to reconsider the age cut-off.

“It does seem unfair in terms of being over 65, all of a sudden the whole amounts to an ETP,” he said.

“The reasoning behind it would seem that it would assume that it’s not a bona fide redundancy because at 65 you might be retiring, but it does seem with Australians working longer it seems like a bit of outdated legislation.”

Mr Lancaster said there would be more over-65 redundancies as people continued to work later in life.

“The age pension age is lifting, so people will work past 65 to reach the age pension,” he said.

“It would seem logical that 65 seems a bit of an off age in today’s day and age.”

 

Source:  ABC Gippsland

Our Assumptions About Old and Young Workers Are Wrong

November 14, 2016

It is almost second nature to create stereotypes of people based on age. If someone is in their twenties then they must be technologically adept, obsessed with keeping fit, prepared to change jobs frequently whilst obviously searching for meaningful work. Those in their sixties and seventies must be less interested in work and are probably exhausted and anticipating the leisure time offered by a long retirement.

These are seductive and easy to understand behavioural labels. But are these assumptions either real or helpful? Might they obscure even more important similarities?

We believe this is a crucial question to ask right now as working lives – shaped by technological innovations and extended by growing longevity – are undergoing profound transformations. To understand how people are responding to this transformation in their working lives, we developed a survey completed by more than 10,000 people from across the world aged 24 to 80.

We found far fewer differences between the age groups than we might have imagined. In fact, many of the traits and desires commonly attributed to younger people are shared by the whole workforce. Why might this be the case?

One reason is that we are simply living longer. This means we’re also working longer, and working differently.

For our recent book The 100 Year Life we calculated how long people will work. Whilst we cannot be precise, it is clear that in order to finance retirement many people currently in their fifties will work into their seventies; whilst those in their twenties could well be working into their eighties. That means that inevitably people of very different ages are increasingly working together.

This long working life, coupled with profound technological changes, dismantles the traditional three-stage life of full-time education, full-time work, and full-time retirement. In its place is coming – for all employees regardless of their age – a multi-stage life that blends education, exploration, and learning, as well as corporate jobs, freelance gigs, and time spent out of the workforce. Inevitably the variety of these stages and their possible sequencing will result in both greater variety within age cohorts, whilst also providing opportunities for different ages to engage in similar activities. In other words, work activities will become increasingly “age agnostic” and these age stereotypes will look increasingly outdated.

Right now people of every age are becoming increasingly aware of the transformation of their working life. They are reinvesting in their skills, looking after their health and thinking about options, transitions and career switches that weren’t a reality for previous generations. Viewed in this light, there is less discontinuity between different ages – and instead a shared, and growing interest in the tools to cope with a longer working life in an age of profound technological disruption.

Our survey highlighted these commonalities. While there may be some selection bias — the 10,000 people who completed our survey online are already interested in the topic of life and work changes — their experiences and attitudes highlight how misleading simple age related stereotypes can be. Consider six fairly common age-based assumptions: the young invest most in new skills, they are most positive and excited about their work, and they work hardest to keep fit; the old are more exhausted, keen to slow down, and less likely to explore. The people in our study overturned these stereotypes.

  1. It is not just the young who are investing in new skills. We asked people whether they felt their skills and knowledge had plateaued, and whether they had recently made an investment in their skills. After the age of 30 many people are concerned about plateauing skills. Indeed there is no difference between those in their 30s, 40s or 60s – almost two-thirds worried that their skills and knowledge were not keeping up with changing work demands. What is fascinating is how many people were countering this by actively investing in their skills. Certainly a higher proportion of those aged 18-30 (91%) and 31-45 (72%) felt they were investing in new skills but after the age of 45 almost 60% of all ages said they were actively investing. In other words, the majority of people keep maintaining skills and this does not significantly decline with age.
  1. It is not just the young who are positive and excited by their work. This is a crucial attitude as working lives elongate. If indeed being positive and excited about work declines sharply with age, then long working lives will become a terrible burden for the older. What was striking was that whatever their age, those feeling positive about their work was a constant at just over 50%. Just as striking is the proportion of people of all ages who don’t feel positive about their work.
  1. Older people are working harder to keep fit. We know that vitality is central to a long productive life and it is easy to imagine that it’s only the young who really care about their fitness. Yet we discovered that it is the older who are working hardest to try to keep fit. About half of those under 45 actively try to keep fit, rising continuously across the ages with a peak of 71% for those aged over 70.
  1. Older people are not more exhausted. One of the reasons corporations often prefer the young to the old is the assumption that with age comes exhaustion at work and therefore a lowering of productivity. We found no evidence of this age related exhaustion. In fact, more people under the age of 45 (43%) said they were exhausted than those over 45 (35%) – the least exhausted are those over 60.
  1. Older people don’t want to slow down. The stereotype is that as people age they want to slow down and are looking forward to retiring. We found this not to be the case. More than half of those aged 46 to 60 want to slow down, whilst only 39% of the people over 60 and less than 20% of the people over 70 say they want to slow down.
  1. Exploring is not just for the young. When you think about “gap years” you probably think about 20-year-olds taking time out after full-time education. But why assume that it is only the young who want to take time out to explore and learn more about themselves and their world? Crucially, we found no significant age difference in people’s excitement about exploring their options.

The six assumptions we have explored here are probably just aspects of a much bigger tapestry of assumptions about the young and old that are spurious, wrong, even damaging. We use the word damaging with care. When corporations believe that older workers invest less in their knowledge, are less excited by their work and exploring their world, and are on a path to physical decline and exhaustion, they make the wrong decisions about whom to select, promote and develop, and whom to retire.

There are undoubtedly some differences across the age groups that are important in the workplace. However, the over-simplicity of age and generational labels decreases our understanding of individuality; it masks the commonality of the task we are all facing as we strive to achieve a productive and enriching longer working career; and is in deep conflict with the imperative to develop age-agnostic working practices.

As every one of us is faced with living and working longer it is absolutely crucial that, whatever our age, we face up to and question unfounded assumptions and stereotypes about ourselves and about others. Only then can we create workplaces where people are accepted for themselves.


Lynda Gratton is Professor of Management Practice at the London Business School where she teaches an elective on the Future of Work and directs an executive program on Human Resource Strategy. Lynda is a fellow of the World Economic Forum, is ranked by Business Thinkers in the top 15 in the world, and was named the best teacher at London Business School in 2015. Her most recent book is The 100 Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, co-authored with Andrew Scott.


Andrew Scott is Professor of Economics at London Business School and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University and the Centre for Economic Policy Research. He has served as an advisor on macroeconomics to a range of governments and central banks and was Non-Executive Director on the UK’s Financial Services Authority. He is the co-author, with Linda Scott, of The 100-Year Life: Living and working in an age of longevity.

People Over 40 Should Only Work 3 Days A Week, Experts Claim

If you are over 40 and thinking that your ability to focus and remember facts is deteriorating, your work could actually be to blame.

Recent research by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research found that, whilst working up to 30 hours a week is good for cognitive function in the over 40s, any more than that causes performance to deteriorate.

In fact, those who worked 55 hours a week or more showed worse cognitive impairment than those who were retired or unemployed and didn’t work at all.

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The study looked at 3500 women and 3000 men aged 40 and over, and made them complete cognitive function tests whilst their performance at work was monitored.

Their ability to read words aloud, recite lists of numbers and match letters and numbers in speed trials was monitored throughout the test, known as the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey (Hilda). The author of the test, Professor Colin McKenzie, said that both ‘thinking’ and ‘knowing’ were important indicators. Reading tests is the ‘knowing’ part of ability, whilst ‘thinking’ captures memory, abstract and executive reasoning.

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Whilst some intellectual stimulation is thought to be good to retain cognitive function in later life, with brain puzzles such as Sudoku and crosswords credited with sustaining brain power in older people, excessive stimulation works the other way.

Professor McKenzie told The Times that many countries are aiming to raise the retirement age, forcing people to work for longer as they will be unable to claim benefits until later. He believes that the degree of work may have an important bearing on this.

The degree of intellectual stimulation may depend on working hours. Work can be a double edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time working long hours can cause fatigue and stress, which potentially damage cognitive functions.

He believes that part time work may be beneficial in retaining brain function in middle aged and older people. Should those who can afford to do so reduce their hours, then? And is the type of work you do a factor?

You would think that a job you love which is less stressful would be less damaging on your stress and fatigue levels. The Hilda survey doesn’t look at the type of work and how that affects results, so this is something to bear in mind.

Young business woman relaxing on a floor. [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786622][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/business.jpg[/img][/url]

 

 

Professor McKenzie reasons, “It’s very difficult to identify the causal effects of the type of work on cognitive functions. People may be selected into certain occupations according to their cognitive abilities.” Certainly, high stress factor jobs with long hours in competitive, demanding fields will play havoc with a person’s health in general.

As most people have to go on working after 40, or even return to work after a break to have a family or for other personal reasons, taking care of your health, maximizing your down time and taking restful holidays becomes more important. Professor McKenzie says that, “Working full time – over 40 hours a week –  is still better than no work in terms of maintaining cognitive function, but it is not maximizing the potential effects of work.”

 

A balance seems to be needed, then, especially as the government are planning to bring in full time work requirements until that age of 67.

What do you think? Do you feel that a reduction in hours would be beneficial?

72 per cent Aussie grandparents couldn’t imagine life without the internet.

Australian grandparents are now swapping their ‘knitting’ for ‘internetting’, with the explosion of smart devices and increased access to fast broadband taking over all aspects of their lives.

According to a new research report commissioned by nbn, the majority of tech-savvy grandparents, or ‘GranTechies’, now couldn’t imagine their life without the internet.

In fact, more than 90 per cent now admit to jumping online every day.

The key findings of the nbn™ GranTechies Report reveal that Aussie grandparents are now using access to fast broadband for tasks including staying in touch with family and friends via email and Skype, online shopping and downloading or streaming video content.

The report also found that grandparents believe themselves to be as tech-savvy as their children and grandchildren, with 59 per cent saying that they are just as internet-smart as their younger counterparts.

Perhaps more importantly, the nbn™ GranTechies Report discovered that using the internet makes Australian seniors feel more educated and purposeful, as well as feeling more connected and less lonely.

This demographic believe it’s important that they upskill and stay up-to-date with tech trends, with more than half saying that they are eager to learn more through online tutorials and with the help of family and friends.

When it comes to online communication, it is Millennial men who are leading the charge when it comes to staying in touch with the older generation via social media.

Forty four per cent in this demographic say they connect with their grandparents using outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

According to Nan Bosler, President of the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association, “Gone are the days where we thought of grandparents as tech dinosaurs – this research shows senior Australians are well and truly riding the tech wave”.

Based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Nan helps other seniors to learn to use the internet, welcoming anyone over the age of 55 but working mainly with people in their late 70s and right up to their 90s.

“The most popular activity is keeping in touch with family and friends,” explains Nan.

“However, seniors also use the internet like everybody else… for shopping, researching family history, taking online courses and buying airline tickets. I even have lots of students who are addicted to YouTube!”

Nan herself has been using computers for many years, initially making the most of technology to upload and publish local history books.

“When the internet arrived it was a new vehicle to upload information about local and Australian history. It was too good to miss because it brings the whole world to your fingertips,” she explains.

Disagreeing with the idea that seniors find it hard to learn new things, Nan explains, “When you’re trying something new you’re going to be hesitant and worried about making a fool of yourself.

Seniors need to learn from their peers and at their own pace but once we gain confidence we are off and running.”

Nan also uses the internet to stay mentally active, having enrolled in an online university course. “You don’t have to travel; you can just enrol and get started”.

While seniors do have to be aware of the dangers of using the internet, Nan would like to see more of her age group using it confidently.

“It’s fabulous for keeping up with the grandkids. Although some of them need to remember to mind their p’s and q’s once Grandma is on social media!” she says.

Nan has been pleased to see that with widespread access to fast broadband via the nbn™ network, the ‘GranTechie’ demographic has been able to move beyond using the internet to simply keep in touch with family and friends and has progressed to becoming a community of more advanced online users that is able to show the younger folk a thing or two.

If your grandparents are eagre to get into the tech game, but aren’t sure how, here are some tips of helping them get started.

 

 

 

David Penberthy

October 1, 2016

A MATE of mine who rightly describes himself as a grumpy old man told me a  great grumpy old man joke the other day. It involved a man in his late 50s, recently retrenched, who had typed up a CV for the first time in decades and was being interviewed by a 20-something HR woman at a job placement firm about his qualities as an employee.
“Do you think that you have any weaknesses?” she asked, routinely.
“Probably honesty,” he said.
“I don’t think honesty is a weakness,” she said.
“I don’t give a f–k what you think,” he replied.
Many a true word is said in jest. I like this joke because it goes to the heart of the perception that older workers — or in this bloke’s case, non-workers — are irascible and stuck in their ways. Also, older workers are seen as providing limited return on investment, to use that cliched management term.
Why bother hiring a crotchety know-it-all who might give you a decade of productivity, when you could stump for a bright young thing to shape in your image, and hopefully hold on to for years?
Our economy is at a crossroads, shifting from its reliance on manu-facturing and mining to the new service and data-driven industries.
There has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian, our Prime Minister says.
For many people, most of them men aged in their 50s and early 60s, there has never been a more unnerving time to be an Australian — because so many people being squeezed out of jobs are older men.

‘So much of the discussion around unemployment has focused on the young.’

Men who, if sacked, will never work again. The figures are borne out by the depressing statistic that anyone who is retrenched over the age of 55 will spend at least twice as long on the dole as a person under that age. And a 2014 study by the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre revealed that 96 per cent of people aged 55 to 59 who were retrenched wound up retiring, even though many were desperate to work again.
So much of the discussion around unemployment has focused on the young. There have been calls to raise the Newstart allowance from $264 a week to $317, a $53-a-week increase that would cost the Budget $7.7 billion.
It’s been pushed by the Australian Council of Social Service and the Australian Industry Group fearing the current rate is so low that people cannot present themselves properly or travel to look for jobs. I have no way of knowing whether the public agrees with the ACOSS and AIG position. My hunch is that many would be suspicious of the proposed rise, fearing that young people who could be rightly described as bludgers would treat it as their personal payday.
The public view would be different, however, if you asked people to compare the indolent 20-somethings who had never looked for work in his life, and the middle-aged man who had done nothing but work, and who found out last Monday his company was shifting operations to Beijing or Bangalore.
The Federal Government’s logic in denying calls for a Newstart increase is that it risks turning the welfare safety net into a hammock. I agree with that view for younger workers with no dependants, and no interest in working. I am not sure if it is fair for older people who have mortgages, debts, children — and a burning desire to work again.

The Federal Government’s logic in denying calls for a Newstart increase is that it risks turning the welfare safety net into a hammock.
I am not suggesting that every unemployed young person doesn’t want to work. There are some suburbs in Australia where the old blue-collar jobs have gone forever.
But there are plenty of younger people who would not work in an iron lung. Surely the best way to get them off their behinds is with less carrot, and more stick.
One of the more illuminating moments of my journalistic career came about 10 years ago when I was asked to go from editing newspapers to running a news website. You could not have found a team more adept to the digital age, be it writing HTML code, or generating new audiences via social media channels.
Their only weakness, as purported journalists, was that many of them didn’t know what The Dismissal was, how Harold Holt disappeared, or who the hell Harold Holt even was. We had replaced people who were walking encyclopedias with the Wikipedia generation. As a community, we do that every time we sort through the CVs on the basis of age, not to forget perceived grumpiness.

Source: Sun Herald

By Craig Allen

Proposals to further lift the pension age have “terrified” some mature-aged jobseekers, who said they were already struggling to compete for work with candidates decades their junior.

The Federal Government has flagged plans to reintroduce legislation to raise the pension age from the current 65 years and six months, to age 70, by 2035.

But with the pressure on workers to stay in paid employment longer, some have called for bosses to reform their attitudes and find longer-term career paths for their employees.

The National Willing to Work report, recently released by the Australian Human Rights Commission, exposed widespread discrimination against older workers, and the myths that they were “forgetful, inflexible”, and had trouble learning new skills.

Last month former Human Rights Commissioner Susan Ryan told the National Press Club that attitudes must change because there were huge economic benefits in employing mature aged workers.

“The business case for employing older workers is undeniable, yet only relatively few businesses are doing it,” Ms Ryan said.

The report found one in 10 business have a maximum age above which they will not recruit — and the average age was 50.

But it was not just private enterprise at fault, with the Council on the Ageing (COTA) claiming the Federal Government’s recruitment practices, which required candidates to disclose their age, only reinforced the problem.

The report also found:
Individuals who were subject to negative assumptions, stereotypes and discrimination could experience stress, and a decline in physical and mental health;
That some government policies and the operation of some government programs were “not achieving their intended objectives and may be serving as a disincentive to workforce participation”;
A 7 per cent increase in mature-age labour force participation would raise gross domestic product in 2022 by approximately $25 billion;
Employment discrimination against people with disability was “ongoing and systemic”.
COTA ACT executive director Jenny Mobbs said older candidates were too often missing out on jobs.

“The selection panels in the public service can be quite a young group of people, and they don’t want their mum or their dad walking in and taking over in the workforce,” Ms Mobbs said.

“It’s a really complex issue, certainly one where the discrimination’s certainly there.

“If a 35-year-old applies for a job, and a 60-year-old applies for the job, the 35-year-old, particularly in Canberra, will get the job.

“Younger people don’t like to work with older people who’ve got much more experience because they feel threatened.”

Seminars helping older Australians re-enter the workforce

COTA ACT has been holding seminars for older workers trying to re-enter the workforce, including training on how to get interviews and how to compete with much younger candidates.

Participant Tanya Astle said it was common for mature-aged jobseekers to be overwhelmed by the challenges of finding work.

“There’s a lot of frustration in the group with not being able to get work … but what we’ve found in the group that it’s really good to get together to support each other and to vent,” Ms Astle said.

“A lot of us have been out of work because of parenting … and the workforce has zoomed right past us.”
Ms Astle has recently retrained, but admitted being daunted at the prospect of having to start a new career at her age.

“Honestly, it is terrifying. Yes, for me it’s quite nerve-wracking,” she said.

Former senior executive Gloria Loewe, 56, said she had lost track of the numbers of knock-backs she has had in trying to find work.

“I stopped counting … it’s depressing if you start counting,” Ms Loewe said.

And she echoed a similar sentiment of other mature aged workers: that working is about self satisfaction rather than ruthless ambition.

“It’s not so much to make money, or have a position — I already did that,” Ms Loewe said.

“It’s just to keep active, and mainly to be useful to somebody or to yourself, or to society. I feel that I still have a lot to offer.”
Key recommendations from the Human Rights Commission’s Willing to Work report included creating a Minister for Longevity, government targets for older worker recruitment, and better education to dispel myths and stereotypes about older employees.

Just as companies have shifted on the area of gender and race diversity in the workplace, they now need to change their mindset to encourage older workers to remain employed.
Australian companies need to adopt aged worker-friendly policies in order to survive and attract the best talent.

PwC’s The Golden Age Index report found businesses should look to adopt flexible working policies, such as “phased retirement”, or expanding training programs to encourage and support their older workforce.

“They should also take steps to achieve age diversity, for example through opening up apprenticeship schemes to older workers so that they can capitalise on their experience,” the report said.

PwC people and organisation partner Jon Williams said Australian companies had made gains on improving diversity in the workplace but needed a mindset change to implement policies to attract and retain older staff.

“Companies need to change workplace policies to allow people to work much more flexibly and they need to change culture,” Mr Williams said.

“We’ve moved on the diversity lens now we need to extend that to age.”

He said when blue collar jobs were automated the whole job was lost, but when it came to white collar roles only parts would be replaced.

“In the long term we’re going to need human skills, not computer skills, intuition and application of experience to solve social problems and that fits well into the older workforce’s skills, and unless we tap into these people we’re going to undercut our ability as a country.”

Mr Williams said there was no reason why older workers couldn’t be taught science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills but also the next wave of jobs in aged care would value older workers with life experience skills.

Companies such as electricity operator Transgrid are implementing plans to encourage older workers to remain employed.

The company undertakes strategic workforce planning each year to enable analysis of risks and fill gaps over the next five to 10 years.

It found a number of years ago there was an “age-cliff” as many engineers planned for retirement.

In response, the organisation brought on quite a number of graduates over a few years in preparation for transferring mid-career engineers into senior engineering roles.

Staff are also given other benefits including flexible work arrangements to phased retirement such as a condensed four-day week, a nine-day fortnight, 35-hour week, 15 per cent superannuation and personal leave of 18 days a year.

At Australia Post, 50 per cent of the workforce is over 45 years of age.

In 2010 the company introduced a policy whereby those over 53 years of age and with at least five years’ continuous service have been able to request flexible working arrangements in order to transition to retirement.

Employees may access their accrued long service leave or annual leave on a regular or patterned basis to maintain their salary.

With five generations in the workforce for the first time in its history, Westpac provides employees aged over 50 a “Prime of Life” program where they are given support to plan their next move, including transition to retirement.

Source: Australian Financial Review

June 13, 2016 12:00am
Karen Brooks

Believing we’re all somehow professionally and socially redundant or our ability to adapt seizes once we reach 55 is ridiculous, depressing and offensive.
Reports emerged last week that managers at Gladstone Power Station (GPS) were intending to get rid of workers aged over 55 years because they were too old to meet “challenging changes.”

According to the bosses, keeping them would impact upon productivity. The reasons behind this “early retirement” plan were generally slammed, arousing deep concerns about attitudes towards older workers in broader social and cultural terms.

Whether or not GPS is justified in their decision from a business perspective or some employees are eager to take up the redundancy packages being offered, there’s something both cavalier and indifferent about the announcement. It indicates that age discrimination is not only alive and well, but in this instance, professionally endorsed.

The irony that GPS is singling out older workers for fear they may lack the requisite energy for a power plant appears to have bypassed management.

We know we’re all living longer — according to a Productivity Commission Report on ageing in Australia released in 2014, a female born in 2012 will live, on average, to 94.4 years while a male will live to an average 91.6 years.

The same report discussed the increase in pensionable age from 67 to 70 years, arguing it would boost participation rates in the workforce by 3-10 per cent.

But as columnist Susie O’Brien asks, “what’s the point of making older people work longer if there are no jobs for them to do?”

Indeed.

Before you continue reading: What’s your plan to keep over-55s in the workforce? We’ve had a number of great suggestions at My Big Idea — now share yours.

In the Chandler-McLeod white paper entitled Coming of Age: The Impact of an Ageing Workforce on Australian Business, published in 2013, it was noted that by 2044, 25 per cent of the population would be over 65 years. The importance of “grey workers” (a title so laden with negative connotations, it has to go) to productivity, how they display a strong work ethic and, importantly, possess a “growing financial imperative to do so following the blow to their savings during the GFC,” was also covered.

Age discrimination is alive and well.
Despite this, mature workers (depending which piece of legislation you read, anyone between 45-55 years) are under-represented in the workforce and “over presented in the joblessness rate.”

The paper also revealed something we instinctively know and the decision taken by the bosses at GPS has made overt: age discrimination is rampant.

Talk to many young workers, and they’ll tell you they are also discriminated against.

Damned if you’re young (lack experience; have a sense of entitlement); damned if you’re older (cost more, just cruising till retirement).

The safest place to be in terms of working age seems to be somewhere in the middle — probably around the ages of the GPS powerbrokers.

In other words, stereotypes and clichés about older workers (and younger) abound. Yet, it seems to me that when it comes to work, age shouldn’t really matter. Poor or great attitudes towards work, loyalty, skills-set, don’t fall into age brackets, but are individual. Experience, if the mind is open and willing, is something one accrues at any age.

Assuming older workers cannot embrace “challenging changes” actually beggars belief, considering they’ve probably lived and worked through more change than many of us can ever imagine.

While older workers may cost more to keep on the books, there are enormous benefits to managers in terms of output, skill and knowledge transfer and leadership development.
Yes, older workers do have to take responsibility for their careers, keep their skills relevant, and while many are reluctant to apply for jobs, they do have to pursue opportunities.

Believing we’re all somehow professionally and socially redundant or our ability to adapt seizes once we reach 55 is ridiculous, depressing and offensive.

But it’s no wonder so many view older people that way, particularly if they don’t know many mature folk in their personal or working lives — just look at the majority of representations of ageing in popular culture.

Advertisements for various insurance policies — from cars to funerals (aren’t they jolly!) feature grey-haired, smiling and often stupid older people asking simple questions and looking gloriously satisfied once they understand they can receive discounts or are still eligible for cover, as if they have no concerns but those.

Ageing celebrities, particularly women, are either mostly absent from our screens, have had so much cosmetic tweaking done (looking at you Sly Stallone), they’re parodies of their younger selves, or (with too few exceptions) feature in comic/curmudgeonly/dependent roles.

It’s easy to be glib about those over 55 when the box you tick on various surveys is well above it. We should heed Mark Twain, who wrote, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

I mind that older people are being nudged out of the workforce before they’re ready, and think it really matters — not only in policy terms, but social and cultural ones as well.

Time to have a real conversation about this, before we get any older.

Source: News Corp Australia Network