Posts Tagged “mature age workers”

Older adults offer leadership and experience, yet are often overlooked in the hiring process with HR instead focusing on millennials. That’s according to Ben Eatwell, CMO at Weploy.

Eatwell added that this is often out of a desire to “nurture the next generation of talent”, but also the satisfaction out of having a major impact on these younger minds.

“That’s quite a long way from retirement! We know diversity positively impacts innovation, culture and profits, but often age diversity has less focus.”

Eatwell said there are many advantages to employing older adults, particularly in positions where experience and leadership are needed. However, this doesn’t seem to be translating into more opportunities for older Australians.

“I think this has to do with trying to fit workers into traditional organisational structures – by exploring more agile, networked and outcome-oriented structures it can not only improve diversity but also productivity.”

Eatwell offers a few tips for HR professionals who want to boost the number of older Australians amongst their staff.

The starting point should always be a “thorough assessment of the recruitment process” to identify and mitigate where age discrimination could arise.

“One of the key traits we assess is learning agility – in a nutshell, the ability to pick new ideas up quickly,” he said.

“Research suggests that although you can make small improvements to your learning agility, it is more or less fixed and is not dependent on age.”

Consequently, choosing candidates based on learning agility can help add some objectivity to the hiring process.

From there it’s about developing a culture of lifelong learning. Mature employees have a huge amount of experience to share which can be “leveraged to increase overall productivity and morale”.

“Also I’ve seen reverse mentoring work very well, reducing knowledge gaps with both younger and more mature workers, as well as improving organisational culture.”

So what is lost by having nobody senior around?

“Often it’s the times of crisis when calm is needed, or when team morale is affected by a failed project, that age diverse workforces show critical value,” said Eatwell.

“We do a lot of ‘learning by doing’ and that includes what to do when things do not go according to plan.”

Eatwell added that leadership is a quality that is not tied to age, but the “reassurance of someone who has seen a crisis and worked through it to tell the tale” can be invaluable in making sure the right work gets done in these high-pressure moments.

Sometimes, the only senior person on a project is the boss, and employees are reluctant to confess an error that can lead to disaster if unaddressed, he added.

“Having a senior member of the workforce who can act as that neutral-confidant, and know what to do with the information, has considerable value.”

Employees from diverse ages have different experiences, perceptions and approaches when it comes to things like problem-solving, decision making and task handling, he said.

“They can also use various strategies – starting from the way they think, plan and execute tasks, which can influence operations in a more subtle, but still valuable way.”

Source:hcamag.com

People are living longer, and organizations are shifting their attitudes toward older workers as a result. Organizations that can turn advancing worker age into an asset could gain a competitive advantage.

Longer lives, older workforces

Rising life expectancies and an aging global workforce present organizations with unprecedented challenges and untapped opportunities. Companies that plan, design, and experiment with workforce strategies, workplace policies, and management approaches for longer working lives can reap a longevity dividend. Those that lag behind face potential liability concerns and skill gaps. Creating ways for people to have meaningful, productive multi-stage and multidimensional careers is a major opportunity to engage workers across generations.

 

 

One of modern science’s greatest achievements is longevity: the unprecedented length of human lives today. Average global life expectancy has rocketed from 53 years in 1960 to 72 years in 2015—and it is still climbing,1 with life expectancy projected to grow by 1.5 years per decade.2 Longevity, combined with falling birth rates, is dramatically increasing the share of older people in populations worldwide.3 Looking ahead, the number of retirees per worker globally is expected to decline from 8:1 today to 4:1 in 2050.4

These demographic facts have profound implications for individuals, organizations, and society. In this era of longevity, an individual’s career can last far longer, spanning generations of technologies and businesses. Companies can employ people into their 60s, 70s, and beyond as the pool of traditional “working-age” (20- to 54-year-old) adults shrinks. For their part, many individuals find the need—financially and/or emotionally—to stay in the workforce past “traditional” retirement age.

In our 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 29 percent of the respondents rated longevity as a very important issue, and another 40 percent rated it as important. Respondents in Japan in particular, whose population is rapidly aging, were especially concerned about the issue, with 41 percent saying that it is very important.

The looming impacts of global aging

Population aging poses a workforce dilemma for both economies and organizations. Thirteen countries are expected to have “super-aged” populations—where more than one in five people is 65 or older—by 2020, up from just three in 2014.5 These include major economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, and South Korea. China’s 65-and-older population is projected to more than triple from approximately 100 million in 2005 to over 329 million in 2050.6 In fact, analysts have estimated that 60 percent of the world’s population over 65 will live in Asia by 2030.7

Compounding the challenge, almost all developed economies now have birth rates below the replacement rate of 2.1.8 This means that companies in these countries must either attract workers from abroad or tap into the maturing workforce. For a view of the challenges ahead, one needs look no further than Japan—the world’s oldest country—where a shortage of roughly 1 million employees in 2015 and 2016 is estimated to cost nearly $90 billion.9

New research is being conducted to help organizations shape their talent and business strategies for an era of longevity. The MIT AgeLab, for example, works with businesses, government, and other stakeholders to develop solutions and policies aimed at engaging the elderly population. The AgeLab uses consumer-centered thinking to understand the challenges and opportunities of longevity in order to catalyze innovation across business markets.10

Older talent as a competitive advantage

As talent markets grow more competitive, organizations often find it valuable to keep older workers on the job rather than replace them with younger ones. Our research shows that older workers represent a largely untapped opportunity: Only 18 percent of this year’s respondents said that age is viewed as an advantage in their organization. But leading companies are beginning to focus on this talent pool as a competitive advantage.

The older labor pool represents a proven, committed, and diverse set of workers. More than 80 percent of US employers believe that workers aged 50 and more are “a valuable resource for training and mentoring,” “an important source of institutional knowledge,” and offer “more knowledge, wisdom, and life experience.”11 The UK government incentivizes employers to retain, retrain, and recruit older workers, and it is committed to policies that support lifetime learning and training and decrease loneliness and social isolation.12

Proactive organizations are tapping into the older talent pool by extending their career models, creating new development paths, and inventing roles to accommodate workers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. This year, 16 percent of the respondents we surveyed for this report say their companies are creating special roles for older workers, and 20 percent are partnering with older workers to develop new career models. Organizations could find great value in older workers’ ability to serve as mentors, coaches, or experts. Taking on these kinds of roles allows older workers to “pass the baton” to younger generations, while making room for ambitious younger workers.

Many companies are also experimenting with workplace changes to help older employees remain in the workforce. For instance, BMW increased productivity on an assembly line staffed with older workers by 7 percent in just three months through simple changes such as providing cushioned floors and adjustable work benches.13 Home Depot and other organizations are engaging older workers with flexible scheduling options and part-time positions.14 Further, as many as one-third of retirees are willing to work part-time, offering opportunities to leverage this group on a contingent or gig basis.15

Reskilling also plays a role in successful strategies to utilize older talent. One global telecommunications provider encourages senior workers to reinvent themselves and invests in programs to help them acquire new technical skills.16 Software engineers who have built careers on older technologies such as COBOL or C++ can use this experience to learn mobile computing, AI, and other technologies at a very rapid rate.

An interesting and little-known fact, moreover, is that older people are among the most entrepreneurial of workers across age groups. Between 1996 and 2014, the percentage of older workers (aged 55–64) starting new ventures increased—exceeding (by 68 percent) the rate of entrepreneurship among millennial entrepreneurs (aged 20–34), which actually decreased during the same period.17

The new challenges of an aging workforce

The transition toward older talent can present challenges. Older workers may have specialized workplace needs and can attract resentment from younger workers, and they often enjoy higher salaries because of their tenure. Organizations looking to assimilate an older worker population may face the need to design new wage policies, create more flexible rewards programs, and train young leaders to manage people across generations (including team members who may be their parents’ age).

Pensions are another area where longevity impacts organizations. The World Economic Forum estimates that a $70 trillion global retirement savings gap exists today, highlighting the sharp difference between retirement needs and actual retirement income. Moreover, this gap is projected to grow to $400 trillion by 2050.18 Helping older adults to work longer and manage their retirement savings will be a vital need for companies in order to avoid the negative productivity effects of financial stress.

Our Global Human Capital Trends research shows that many organizations are unprepared to deal with the aging of global workforces. Nearly half of the respondents we surveyed (49 percent) reported that their organizations have done nothing to help older workers find new careers as they age. Rather than seeing opportunity, 20 percent of respondents view older workers as a competitive disadvantage, and in countries such as Singapore, the Netherlands, and Russia, this percentage is far higher. In fact, 15 percent of respondents believed that older employees are “an impediment to rising talent” by getting in the way of up-and-coming younger workers.

Based on these findings and our anecdotal observations, we believe there may be a significant hidden problem of age bias in the workforce today. Left unaddressed, perceptions that a company’s culture and employment practices suffer from age bias could damage its brand and social capital.

Age discrimination is already becoming a mainstream diversity issue and liability concern. More than 21,000 age discrimination complaints were filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016.19 The problem is particularly acute in Silicon Valley’s technology industry, where older software engineers are often pushed to take lower-paying jobs or look for work outside Silicon Valley because of the emphasis on the “youth culture.”20

The demographic math is undeniable: As national populations age, challenges related to engaging and managing the older workforce will intensify. Companies that ignore or resist them may not only incur reputational damage and possible liabilities, but also risk falling behind those organizations that succeed in turning longevity into a competitive advantage.

The bottom line

Staying competitive in a world of unprecedented longevity demands that organizations adopt new strategies to engage with older talent. Traditional assumptions—that learning ends in one’s 20s, career progression ends in the 40s, and work ends in the 60s—are no longer accurate or sustainable. Rethinking workforce strategies across multiple generations to account for longer lives will require open minds and fresh approaches.

What role does the C-suite play in capitalizing on longevity? How can individuals adjust?

U.S. employers and policymakers can learn from Japan, Germany and Singapore

Have you ever heard the term “super-aged country?” I hadn’t until I read the just-released Gerontological Society of America (GSA) report, Longevity Economics: Leveraging the Advantages of an Aging Society. The term means that more than one in five people in a country is 65 or older. Japan and Germany are super-aged; by 2030, United Kingdom, France and Singapore will be. So will the United States, raising the question: Why aren’t U.S. employers and the U.S. government adapting policies so more Americans 65 and older can keep working if they’re healthy and interested?

Our businesses and policymakers, it turns out, might do well to follow the lead of super-aged Japan and Germany and soon-to-be super-aged Singapore, based on my reading of the report from GSA and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The study about what the GSA calls “this longevity era” was produced by a workgroup chaired by Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

American employers “haven’t done much of anything to reach out to older workers, let alone accommodate their interests and priorities,” Cappelli told me. “People have to work longer because we’re living longer. So how do we accommodate that?”

Below are a few ways the GSA report says Japan, Germany and Singapore have changed their workforce and governmental policies to keep and attract older workers. “The idea in all these places is to get employers to think about the way to deal with human capital needs,” Cappelli says. A word of warning — one way older people are able to keep working in these countries is by accepting pay cuts.

Japan

The number of employed people age 65 and older in Japan recently hit a record 8.07 million. They now comprise roughly 12 percent of Japan’s workforce, which is a record there, too. And three-quarters of Japanese people aged 60 to 64 are still working (by contrast, only 60 percent of Americans that age are).

One reason many Japanese workers now remain employed past the country’s traditional retirement age of 60 is that the eligibility age to receive a Social Security-like retirement pension from the government is rising. It’s now 62 and will hit 65 in 2025.

Another reason why more people are working longer in Japan: the Japanese government is now requiring companies to employ their workers through age 65 if they want to keep working. The catch is that the older workers must still “retire” at 60; then they return to work under a “continuous employment” policy at a much lower salary. Japanese salaries at age 61 are about one-fourth less than before the worker turned 60, the GSA report notes.

A public-private partnership called the Silver Center Workshops helps retirees find part-time jobs, too. There’s also a catch here, though: the jobs are low-paying — roughly $400 to $500 a month (in U.S. dollars) and in low-skilled areas like housekeeping, park maintenance and bike repair.

“It’s outplacement for older individuals,” says Cappelli. “In Japan, it’s now less about keeping people working at the same companies longer and more about trying to get them into alternate jobs and to do other kinds of things.”

Germany

Germany has also been incentivizing older residents to work longer by pushing back the federal retirement age — it was 65 in 2012 and will be 67 in 2029.

But the country has an intriguing program designed to let people continue working, as well. It’s called “Initiative 50 Plus” and provides training and lifelong learning to older people. Older workers who accept positions with lower salaries get a temporary subsidy for doing so.

“They’re trying to encourage individuals not to retire and to make it attractive to keep working,” says Cappelli.

Singapore

Singapore has been especially proactive towards older workers, but that’s because the country hasn’t had much choice. While only 7 percent of residents were over 65 in 1999, 20 percent will be that old by 2026. So Singapore’s leaders have developed a 70-item initiative to make the country what they call “a nation for all ages.”

Last year, legislation kicked in that “encourages older workers who want to stay employed to do so,” the GSA report says. In Singapore, employers must generally offer re-employment contracts to eligible employees at age 62 and the contracts must be renewable every year until 67. If a company can’t offer a position to an eligible employee, the report notes, it must transfer the obligation to another employer or offer a one-time assistance payment.

But if your company does want to keep you, “everything from the prior job is off the table,” says Cappelli. “Your prior job is finished, whether you were the CEO or an hourly worker. Your old pay doesn’t matter now. Your new rate of pay reflects your real productivity.”

Singapore is effectively telling its older workers, says Cappelli, “You want to keep working? OK, but you can’t just be the boss because you’re older.” And managers, Cappelli says, are being told to “manage these older workers in a different way and be respectful of their experience, but to hold them accountable.”

How well is it working? “The problem with Singapore is you never know,” says Cappelli. “They could tell you it’s working great and you never know for sure.”

Last month, what’s known as a tripartite standard from Singapore’s Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices began encouraging age-inclusive workplace practices, benefiting employees 60 and older. So far, 160 employers have signed on.

Said Singapore’s Second Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo: “The new standard will support older Singaporeans to work as long as they are willing and able to, in jobs that are safer and smarter in a work environment where they feel valued and where their needs are addressed.”

Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel Human Resources Director New Kheng Tiong, a fan of older workers, just hired Chua Ai Gek, 67, as a bar assistant there. “Mature workers tend to be a bit more loyal and punctual,” he told Channel News Asia.

The United States

The GSA report stopped short of making policy recommendations for the U.S. government or for employers. It did say, however, that Congress should look at the tax law to incentivize older workers to remain employed and that employers should implement “aging-friendly policies.”

The cloud hanging over all this here, of course, is age discrimination by employers. “We’re fighting some headwinds,” says Cappelli. “I don’t know that we’re making a ton of progress.”

He’s right. But that could change if employers and the U.S. government wise up, especially as America becomes super-aged. By 2035, for the first time, there will be more Americans who are 65 and older than ones who are under 18. As the GSA report says: “Demography is not destiny. The way people and countries respond to an aging society will determine the future.”

Here are what the Gerontological Society of America says are the “realities” of an aging society:

Source:nextavenue.org

Workers and job seekers aged over 45 will be eligible for training programs to ensure they have the skills necessary to stay in the labour market for as long as they want instead of winding up on the unemployment scrapheap.

As part of the government’s baby boomers package, it will allocate $189.7 million over five years to assist mature-age workers adapt to the changing needs of the economy.

The bulk of the funding, $136.4 million over four years beginning in financial year 2019, will be available as targeted training for registered jobseekers to develop digital skills, enhance their employability and to identify job opportunities in local labour markets.

A Skills and Training Incentive, costing $19.3 million over three years, will provide as much as $2000 for workers aged 45 – 70 at risk of being made redundant through technological or economic change to undertake reskilling or upskilling. The worker or employer will have to match the funding.

A separate $15.2 million program – the Job Change Initiative – will be set up to outline career options for mature-age workers who are considering early retirement or facing redundancy.

The government will expand its Entrepreneurship Facilitators program, which promotes self-employment, to 20 additional locations at a cost of $17.7 million.

Recruiting and retraining

Incentives to hire a worker aged over 50 will be increased modestly by $1.1 million to provide additional wage subsidies for employers worth up to $10,000.

As part of the effort to keep Australians employed longer, workers will be able to undertake an online skills checkpoint when aged between 45 and 65 to provide advice to building their careers or transitioning to new industries.

As well as looking at workers’ employment history and qualifications, the checkpoint will look at their involvement in the community, such as volunteering, to see whether those skills would translate to a new career path.

By targeting workers aged in their late 40s, the hope is they will receive assistance to prolong their careers before running the risk of retrenchment, seniors advocates argue.

The government has flagged a need to drive cultural change and stop discrimination against older workers, promising to develop strategies in conjunction with business and seniors lobby groups.

“The government understands the importance of working with employers to ensure they understand the benefits of recruiting and retaining mature age people,” Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash said.

“We also need to support Australians most affected by our transitioning economy by providing opportunities for them to acquire the skills that will equip them for future opportunities and jobs.”

Source: www.afr.com.au

Older workers must not be left behind when it comes to digital skills training, according to a survey and report from Business in the Community.

The poll of 2,000 employees, 1,000 of whom were over 50, found that older workerss are not receiving the training and skills development they need to succeed in the digital era. Only 25% of employees aged 50-59, and 22% of those aged 60-69, felt their employer encouraged them to take up learning and development opportunities. This is compared with 44% of 18-39 year-olds and 32% of 40-49 year-olds.

Older workers were also more likely to feel that their employer did not inform them about how technology and automation would impact their job compared to younger employees.

Separate research from McKinsey Global Institute has forecast that up to a third of US and German workers, and nearly half of those in Japan, may need to switch occupations by 2030 due to a sudden surge in automation. The researchers describe this as an upheaval on a par with the shift from agriculture to manufacturing.

Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Alliance Manchester Business School, told the Financial Times that that older workers, who remember a time when jobs were for life, may struggle with re-skilling.

“Thirty years ago the psychological contract was if you [work hard] for us we’ll give you career development,” he said. “Now the contract is that we expect you to be committed . . . but we cannot guarantee future employment.”

Therefore, what can businesses do to support older workers in their upskilling journey? Nupur Malik is the HR Director at Tata Consultancy Services, which helped support the Business in the Community research. She called on organisations to take action.

“We believe that training and development is an ongoing process and support all our employees to gain the skills needed to succeed at work, whatever their age,” she said. “Taking action will mean more businesses can thrive in an increasingly competitive global business environment and support employees to stay in good work for longer.”

“By supporting older workers to be ‘digital adopters’ employers can show they value experience, ambition and ensure that their businesses are prepared for future skills shortages,” added Lincoln.

Source:HR Grapevine

Carol Kulik, Opinion, The Advertiser
November 24, 2017

 

WHEN Australia’s age pension was introduced in 1909, just 4 per cent of the population lived long enough to claim it.
Now, the average Australian is expected to live 15-20 years beyond the traditional retirement age of 65 — and by 2050, nearly a quarter of our population will be aged 65 and over.
Clearly Australia’s ageing workforce is a reality that we cannot afford to ignore. But what can organisations do in order to benefit from this growing demographic?
For older Australians, the key here is choice. On the one hand, they’re physically capable of working longer, so they could stay in the workforce. On the other hand, they’re tempted by retirement so they can travel, spend quality time with family and friends, or pursue a favourite hobby.
Baby Boomers have an unprecedented option to extend their working careers beyond the traditional retirement age, and being the largest — and wealthiest — older generation ever, their motivations for staying in the labour force are dependent on the quality of support they receive from their manager.

So for organisations, the challenge is to adequately deliver just this.

To help you on your way, here are a few strategic tips for attracting, engaging, and retaining older workers in your organisation:

Plan for older workers to be front and centre
Have you reviewed the age profile of your workforce and your customers? Some industries like aged care and financial services rely heavily on older clients and customers but, as the population ages, older Australians will become a fast-growing segment across all industries.
To engage this growing demographic group, you can position your older workers in visible, frontline roles to connect with similar older customers, suppliers and stakeholders.
This sends a strong signal that your organisation values older people, making the business more attractive to both older customers and job applicants.

Listen up — or miss out
How much do you know about the changing needs of your older workers? If you’re to benefit from their experience, you may need to redesign jobs to match the changing physical and psychological needs of an older workforce.
Simple things, like losing the physical components of the job, or increasing their opportunities to engage with other people, can seem like easy adjustments, but unfortunately many older workers have tried unsuccessfully to negotiate such changes.
The consequence is an unhappy older worker, who, tired of being in a job that provides a poor fit, simply “retires”, only to return to the job market a few weeks or months later, with a different organisation.
Just like that, you’ve lost one of your most valuable resources — and when they exit, their skills and experience also go out the door.

Keep an open mind about who does what
Do you assume that interns are young? Do you think that managers should be older than the people they supervise? Traditional ideas about the right age for the right job are quickly becoming outdated, and organisations need to acknowledge this in order to get the most out of the workforce.
In the case of older workers, many are interested in “encore careers” that enable them to pursue opportunities outside their original career choice.
As an employer, you may be able to leverage this by offering older workers opportunities within your organisation, perhaps rotating across roles and units or retraining for different kinds of work.

And remember, keep an eye out for older jobseekers making a “sea change” in occupation or industry — they can bring transferable skills, such as budgeting or project management, and new perspectives to your organisation.

Carol Kulik is professor of human resource management at the University of South Australia

by Kimberly Palmer, AARP

Keep up in the workplace by learning the facts about age discrimination.
Age discrimination is real. Two out of three workers between ages 45 and 74 say they have seen or experienced age discrimination at work, and job seekers over age 35 cite it as a top obstacle to getting hired. And if you happen to work in the high-tech or entertainment industries, your chances of experiencing age discrimination are even higher.

Age Discrimination Facts

Here are 10 important facts you should know about age discrimination:
1.  Age discrimination is illegal at any stage of employment, including during hiring, promotions, raises and layoffs. The law also prohibits workplace harassment, by co-workers states have stronger protections. Also prohibited: mandatory retirement ages except for a few exemptions, such as airline pilots and public safety workers.
2.  It is currently legal for employers and prospective employers to ask your age as well as your graduation date. AARP is working to strengthen protections against this line of inquiry. You can opt to remove this identifying information from your LinkedIn profile, or try to deflect the question in an interview, but there’s nothing stopping a prospective employer from asking.
3.  A 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling made it harder for older workers who’ve experienced proven age discrimination to prevail in court. The court said plaintiffs must meet a higher burden of proof for age discrimination than for other types of discrimination. In other words, the Supreme Court moved the law backward and sent a message to employers that some amount of proven discrimination is legally allowed.
4.  Most Americans age 50 and up — 8 in 10, according to AARP research — say they want to see Congress create stronger laws to prevent age discrimination at work.
5.  Most people believe age discrimination begins when workers hit their 50s, according to AARP research of workers between the ages of 45 and 74. Still, 22 percent believe it begins even earlier, when workers hit their 30s and 40s. And 17 percent say they think it begins in one’s 60s.
6.  There’s also a gender difference in the perception of age discrimination: While 72 percent of women between the ages of 45 and 74 said they think people face age discrimination at work, only 57 percent of men in the same age range said so.
7.  Among older workers surveyed by AARP, not getting hired is the most common type of age discrimination they experienced, with 19 percent of respondents citing it. An additional 12 percent say they missed out on a promotion because of age, and 8 percent say they were laid off or fired.
8.  You can take action. If you think you’ve been discriminated against, you can file a charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You can also work with a lawyer to file a lawsuit. Before taking either of these steps, consider going through your company’s grievance system, if it has one. Know that filing a lawsuit can be expensive and there is no guarantee of victory. To help bolster your case, be sure to keep a careful record of all of the alleged discrimination.
9.  Last year, the EEOC received 20,857 charges of age discrimination. Age discrimination makes up more than 1 in 5 of the discrimination charges received by the EEOC.
10.  Contrary to stereotypes, workers age 50 and up are among the most engaged members of the workforce,according to an AARP study. Sixty-five percent of employees age 55 and up are “engaged,” compared to 58 to 60 percent of younger employees. They also offer employers lower turnover rates and greater levels of experience.

 

Source:  AARP:
Kimberly Palmer is an AARP writer for work and jobs. She is also the author of the personal finance books “Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family” and “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life.”
 

18th September 2017 at 16:20

Offering apprenticeships to older learners is ‘robbing kids of their future’, says Charlie Mullins, of Pimlico Plumbers
As someone who has campaigned for apprenticeships for my whole working life, I can’t get over our minister of state for apprenticeships and skills, Anne Milton, telling the House of Commons that they should be available to everybody “whatever their background and age”.
It has always been my view that apprenticeships are there to give our youngsters greater opportunities in life, but encouraging over-60s to take on apprenticeships is quite clearly robbing kids of their future.
I’m all for the older worker and I love having a mix of ages in the workplace. We can always learn from experience, but ultimately you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Encouraging over-60s to start the same course as teenagers is a step backwards. It is both impractical and insulting. If we start handing these precious opportunities out to over-60s, the meaning of “apprenticeship” will change entirely. Practically speaking, in my industry how are these senior trade apprentices going to learn all the tricks of the trade when they aren’t able to lug around heavy materials or stand all day on a site?
Those of us who have completed an apprenticeship with a lot of hard graft will know that they’re nothing like we see on TV. We’ve got to stop confusing the term “apprenticeship”. It’s yet another case of common sense being thrown out of the window.

I can honestly say that I will never take on an apprentice who isn’t young, ripe and ready. We need to save these opportunities for the kids of tomorrow, not waste them on the fogies.
I’ve said from day one that apprenticeships are the way we can reduce crime levels and help to solve the skills gap. Apprenticeships are for youngsters and as soon as we start giving them to older people, they won’t want to do it. Fact. It is our duty to preserve apprenticeships as being a trendy route through life.
‘Don’t waste apprenticeships on the fogies’
We have around 300 apprenticeship applications every month at Pimlico Plumbers, and we’ve got many who make a massive difference to the business. We’ve come a long way since apprenticeships were a second-rate option, and with university applications down this year I was starting to think we were making real progress. We can’t let this set us back and put youngsters off.
Don’t get me wrong, I started my career as an apprentice, and I owe my success to the fact that I was able to learn a trade in this way. I am a big believer in retraining and supporting older workers, but we’ve got to call it a “senior training scheme”, not an apprenticeship.

I’m not saying that older workers are past their sell-by date – far from it. They can bring real credibility to a business and are respected by both colleagues and customers, due to their experience. We’ve had many brilliant older workers in separate roles at Pimlico Plumbers over the years, including van washer Buster Martin, and my current PA Mario, who’s in his seventies. It should be a standard thing in businesses to have young, enthusiastic apprentices who are learning both traditional and new ways of working and older, equally enthusiastic workers who are happy to share their experience and have their ears bent by younger colleagues.
I’m a proud supporter of protecting apprenticeships and getting youngsters motivated to learn and work. In fact, I believe the term “apprentice” is so vitally important to young people today that it should be trademarked, and only used in the proper way. We can’t let it be thrown around and run the risk of putting youngsters off what is a genuine, financially rewarding career option.

I’ve reached out to Anne Milton for a meeting and I’m pleased to say we’ll be looking to get a date in the diary soon. She’s got a lot on her plate, with being committed to reaching 3 million new apprenticeship starts in England by 2020 – but these need to be, what I call, “true apprentices” taking on these apprenticeships. Anne does some great work with encouraging women on the tools too, but I really think I can offer her some insight on apprenticeships, seeing as it is at the core of my business.
Yes, let’s champion retraining older workers and train them on senior training schemes, but we can’t run the risk of putting teenagers off apprenticeships because we’ve let the over-60s join their course.

Charlie Mullins is managing director and founder of Pimlico Plumbers



Monday, 16th January 2017



Study Highlights Cost of Ignoring Older Workers

Australian employers are failing to support and engage older workers which is costing them, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of South Australia and the University of Melbourne surveyed 666 Australian workers between the ages of 45 and 75 over a three-year period about their work experiences.

They found that employers who addressed and invested in older workers reaped significant benefits including a committed, stable and engaged workforce, however many organisations were “far from up to the challenge” and could face problems as the workforce ages and people retire later in life.

Lead researcher, Professor Carol Kulik, a research professor in human resource management at the University of South Australia’s centre for workplace excellence, said age stereotypes were “notoriously persistent” in organisations.

“Mature-age employees [are] commonly perceived to be less productive than their younger counterparts, lacking initiative, disinterested in learning or developing, and resistant to change,” Kulik said.

“Mature-age employees are aware of these age stereotypes and worry that they may inadvertently confirm them. The resulting stereotype threat demotivates mature-age workers and lowers their engagement.

“Our research shows that employers who address older workers’ concerns while also investing in training actually reap significant benefits including a committed, stable and engaged workforce.

“Unfortunately, organisations have been slow to adopt mature-age practices, even though our research shows them to be highly effective in reducing stereotype threat and increasing job engagement among older workers.”

Mature-age workers currently account for 40 per cent of the total Australian workforce and according to latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures more than four million Australian workers are aged 45 years or older.

Moreover from 1 July, the pension age is set to rise by six months every two years, climbing to 67 by 2023. The government proposes to continue this rate of increase until the qualifying age reaches age 70 on 1 July 2035.

With an increasingly ageing workforce, this latest study Engage Me: The Mature-Age Worker and Stereotype Threat, found it was essential for Australian employers to keep older workers engaged and harness the power of their older workers in order to boost the economy.

Researchers found mature-age workers reported lower stereotype threat and higher engagement when employers had high-performance practices that focused on employee training, rewards, and participation, or had adopted mature-age practices that focused on age-specific training, job design and career-management opportunities.

The high-performance and mature-age practices had independent effects, so workers were most engaged when their organisations invested in both types of practices.

The practices were especially important when mature-age workers reported to young managers, were surrounded by young co-workers or worked in manual occupations where age-related physical declines could be visible.

“Employers and managers need to be aware of the unintended signals that environmental cues send to mature-age workers,” Kulik said.

“Policies crafted to recognise and encourage mature-age workers send consistent, durable signals that lessen those workers’ concerns about negative managerial attitudes and increase their focus on their work.

“Organisations can try to eliminate age stereotypes, but managerial attitudes are stubbornly resistant to change so focusing on management practices may have more immediate – and more enduring – effects on mature-age worker engagement.

“Organisations will enjoy the highest levels of engagement from their mature-age workers when they add age-specific practices to their management practices including training designed to upgrade mature-age worker skills, opportunities to redesign jobs to accommodate mature-age worker needs, and phased retirement programs that allow mature-age workers to ease into retirement.”

The video below outlines the findings:


Wendy Williams |  Journalist |  @ProBonoNews

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector.

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

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